Restaurant Law Blog

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brooklyn Community Board Alleged to be Engaging in Questionable Liquor Licensing Practices

Is the public invited to attend liquor license approval procedures?

In certain jurisdictions within the state of New York, a smaller “Community Board” is notified prior to the State Liquor Control Authority in the event an entity wishes to apply for a liquor license. Under the regulations, a Community Board must be notified at least 30 days prior to the filing of an application for a license, and proof of this notification must accompany the application for licensure, which is submitted directly to the SLCA.

While the Community Board is not permitted to approve or deny a liquor license, its role is generally limited to discussing the applicant’s intent, the impact the license could have on the surrounding neighborhood, and whether an issuance of the license is in the community’s best interest. At that point, the Board issues a written opinion to the SLCA, which then makes its own independent decision using the Board’s submission as a factor.

Confusion at Bushwick Community Board

Under state regulations, the public at large is welcome to attend Community Board meetings in all five boroughs, and may even offer testimony upon request. However, according to a recent media story, the Bushwick Community Board has been refusing public entry to those interested in attending meetings regarding applications for liquor licenses in the Bushwick neighborhood. According to the volunteer members of the Board, only the applicants for the license are invited to attend the meetings, along with members of the NYPD or other officials with an interest in the outcome. 

After raising an objection under state laws, the Board reiterated that these meetings contain “very, very sensitive information,” including discussions with law enforcement over the propriety of an establishment being issued a liquor license. Accordingly, the Board believes it is improper for the public to attend and offer its opinions in favor of or against the issuance of the license. 

In 2013, the same Community Board came under fire for refusing to allow the public to attend liquor license meetings, and was reprimanded for unlawfully concealing the identity of businesses applying for licensure. 

Contact a NYC liquor license attorney today

If you are considering applying for a liquor license in New York and would like assistance with the procedure, please contact the DiPasquale Law Group today at (646)383-4607.

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