CB3’s Pisciotta: Time to Evaluate Liquor License Policies

EV Grieve summed up the shenanigans at Tuesday night’s Community Board 3 meeting. If you haven’t heard, the board rejected liquor license applications from Frank Prisinzano (fast food Italian) and Keith Masco (seafood restaurant/bar/fish market) — both on Avenue A.   During the long, steamy affair at P.S. 20, there was also a lot of talk about the dysfunction within CB3’s SLA Committee.  As per usual, there was plenty of vitriol to go around.

We’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say the issues expressed were quite familiar to anyone who’s attended the committee’s monthly melodrama — absurdly long meetings, a lack of civility among committee members, seemingly inconsistent decisions, etc.

After listening to the debate, CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta reaffirmed his commitment to hold a policy meeting to revisit the criteria used by the committee in evaluating liquor license applications. Pisciotta said he has been “striving for balance” on the committee, appointing members who represent different points of view (3 out of 11 are bar owners).

He said the time has clearly come to look at the makeup of the committee. He also said CB3 would reassess so-called “resolution areas,” zones in the neighborhood in which they’ve tried to limit new liquor licenses. Some members also want to see CB3 clarify when exceptions should be made in the resolution areas. Right now the community board’s resolution reads:

(Community Board 3) will approve applications within said areas only where the applicant can demonstrate public benefit or substantial support from the surrounding community.

What exactly is meant by the phrase “public benefit?” SLA Committee Chair Aex Militano believes it’s spelled out in New York’s Alcohol Beverage Control Law and in community board resolutions. Other members disagree. Presumably this is one of the issues Pisciotta will address when the board holds its policy meeting.