CHEERS: Council Looks to Ease Hoboken Liquor Laws; Facilitate Growth
Does Hoboken really need more bars?!?! To many here in town, the answer is YES.
Among them are Hoboken City Councilmen Michael Russo (3rd Ward) and James Doyle (At-Large), who introduced an ordinance that would amend the “500-foot Rule,” often touted as an obstacle for hospitality growth.
As it stands, Municipal Code 68-7 currently stipulates that:
“No plenary retail consumption license, except renewals for the same licensed premises and transfers of license from person to person within the same premises, shall be granted or transfer made to other premises within a distance of 500 feet from any other premises then covered by a plenary retail consumption license.”
The move was made to prevent an overabundance of bars in one area (with existing establishments obviously grandfathered in). The knock-on effect is that is has
limited the number liquor licenses (—that is technically incorrect, as the limit has been capped by the State… what it would do is give current liquor licensees more flexibility), making it difficult to open a new venue.
This ordinance stems from the days when Hoboken was infamous for its waterfront taverns and back-alley boozers. Over the past few years, however, there have been some significant changes to the city’s demographics.
“The city is very different from the 1990s,” said Russo, speaking with the Hudson Reporter. “It was a very collegiate town where people got into fights and sloppy drunk. And now people want to go out with their spouses to a nice restaurant.”
With upscale development taking place throughout the city of Hoboken—particularly in the back (western) part of town, off the Waterfront/Washington Street areas—the idea is to initially lift the “500-foot Rule,” and then open the door to additional liquor licenses that would accommodate these redefined neighborhoods.
As it stands, the Hoboken Liquor License is a pretty hot commodity—fetching in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Such a high demand can make the opening of a small-scale operation cost-prohibitive in lower traffic areas. Concerns are that Hoboken may become too front-heavy in its hospitality scene, with the dearth of neighborhood bars and restaurants negatively impacting properties off the main drags.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Some view the
addition relocation of more bars as having a negative impact on the city, in terms of noise, late-night incidents, and all the other issues that come with living in a vibrant, socially active urban setting.
Hoboken City Council President Jennifer Giattino (6th Ward) has called for a Special Meeting of the City Council for Monday, September 26, 2016 at 7:00pm in City Council Chambers at 94 Washington Street. A vote on the ordinance will not be taken at this meeting, however, the meeting will allow the Council to hear the community’s perspective as they consider the proposed legislation.