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Squadron Bill Strengthens Community Board Role in Liquor Licensing

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Legislation designed to limit the proliferation of nightlife establishments is coming fast and furious from State Senator Daniel Squadron. Last week, his bill clarifying the 500 and 200 foot rules passed the Senate. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously approved another proposal, requiring the State Liquor Authority to “consider applicants’ histories with community boards and make consistent the factors the SLA takes into account for all applications where the 500-foot rule applies.”

The 500 foot rule is supposed to limit new liquor licenses when there are already three or more permits within 500 feet of one another. Under current law, the SLA has the authority to make exceptions if an applicant can demonstrate it’s in the “public interest.” The trouble is, there are no clear definitions of what that term means.

Squadron notes the law does not spell out specific standards. According to a press release, his bill “makes the standards consistent and no longer optional, and adds two factors for consideration: the applicants’ history with Community Boards, as well as fire and building code violations.”

“Without knowing what is meant by public benefit, the entire public suffers,” Squadron said.  “This bill makes community engagement more substantive, and encourages a strong working relationship between establishments and neighborhoods.  It is another step toward making our nightlife laws clearer and fairer for everyone involved.”

The legislation passed last week clarifies that the 500 feet must be measured “from the property line of a nightlife establishment.” The bill imposed the same standards in the enforcement of the 200 foot rule, which restricts businesses selling alcohol within 200 feet of places of worship.

The bill passed by the Senate yesterday is sponsored in the Assembly by Robin Schimminger.

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