After a long and sometimes contentious debate, Community Board 3 decided last night to support a liquor license for a new bar at 221 East Broadway. The vote was 26-11 in favor of the proposal with one member abstaining. A dozen members of the board were not present when the vote finally took place, close to 11 p.m.
The application from Sivan Harlap and Andrew States had divided members of the Seward Park Cooperative, which is located across the street from the building in which the bar will be located. Members of Primitive Christian Church on East Broadway, including its influential pastor, Marc Rivera, opposed the application. Earlier this month, CB3’s liquor licensing panel deadlocked, so it was up to the full board to hash it out.
Some residents said the bar, which is going to feature open windows in nice weather, would create too much noise in a quiet residential area. Others argued that the immediate neighborhood (below Delancey Street and east of Essex) could use another late night hang out.
Last night, the board failed to pass an initial resolution denying support for the proposal. CB3 Chair Dominic Berg said he wanted to see the owners respond to community concerns. The resolution that finally passed calls on Harlap and States to close their windows at 9 p.m. and to serve food until closing (at 4 a.m.) Some people had complained that the bar’s preliminary food menu is very limited.
As the discussion dragged on, board members debated how much weight to give petition signatures and testimony from residents on either side of the issue. Some members argued that, while organizing efforts from the community are a factor to be considered, each application should be evaluated on its own merits.
It’s now up to the State Liquor Authority to decide whether to approve the license. The community board and local elected officials have asked the state to determine whether the proposed bar would be in violation of the “200 foot rule,” a provision that prohibits liquor licenses near churches and schools. Harlap said a technical survey recently conducted found that the bar would be more than 200 feet from Primitive Church. Opponents disagreed, and said they had conducted a separate survey proving the license would violate state law. They also argued that the bar is obviously less than 200 feet away from the empty lot (right next door), the onetime and possibly future home of the Young Israel Synagogue.
In a separate vote last night, CB3 approved a proposed license for Paulaner Brauhaus, a new restaurant at 265-267 Bowery. Residents are not necessarily opposed to the new venue, but they wanted more time to negotiate a set of operating restrictions with the owners. The Paulaner Brauhaus team was not present at last night’s meeting.