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Local Activists Take a Stand Against Governor’s Plan to Change Liquor Laws

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Handout photo.
Handout photo.

On Friday, community activists and local elected officials rallied against legislation proposed by Governor Cuomo to change the state’s liquor laws. They say the amendment to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law would make it harder for community boards to act against problem bars.

In April, the governor’s “blue ribbon panel” in charge of modernizing the 80-year-old law released it recommendations. They included streamlining applications for liquor licenses, eliminating the Sunday morning ban on liquor sales and weakening the “200 Foot Law.” That provision prevents bars and restaurants with full liquor licenses from opening within 200 feet of a church or school.

Last month, Community Board 3 approved a resolution calling on the governor to provide opportunities for feedback about the proposed changes from Manhattan community boards. The resolution stated that the commission included heavy representation from the nightlife and brewing/distilling industries. Only one representative of a New York City community board was allowed to attend.

In a news release from CB3, Chairperson Gigi Li said, “Community Board 3 requests that an additional meeting of the Working Group be convened to allow for participation and recommendations from diverse community boards, particularly those in Manhattan, that must plan and serve their communities based on implementation of New York State Liquor Authority decisions and the (state’s liquor laws).”

In that same press release, State Sen. Daniel Squadron added, “I’ve long supported a key role for community boards in the liquor application process — it doesn’t make sense that community boards weren’t given a meaningful role in developing proposed changes to the liquor law… Provisions that impact our communities and raise real concerns should not be pushed forward without engaging those communities.”  City Council member Margaret Chin said, “Our neighborhoods, which are already over-saturated by late-night establishments serving alcohol, need more transparency in the liquor license granting process, not less… I urge our state elected officials to ensure that the community is consulted on any changes to the law and that all voices are heard.”

This morning, we contacted the office of State Assemblywoman Alice Cancel. We were told that she also opposes the legislation.

A spokesperson from the governor’s office told DNA Info, “The legislation brought forward was the product of extensive and thorough review, and will not only modernize these outdated and arcane laws, but also increase opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.”

If you’d like to have a look at the legislation and its sponsors, click here. CB3 is urging local residents to contact the governor with feedback about the proposed changes.

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