Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

Board 3 gets S.L.A. to cut flow of licenses, at least in one case

By Ellen Keohane

In the war against bar proliferation in the East Village, Community Board 3 recently won what David McWater, the board’s chairperson, is hailing as a major victory.

On July 6, the State Liquor Authority disapproved an application for a new liquor license for a proposed establishment at 26 First Ave.

It was the first time the State Liquor Authority rejected a liquor license application in the district without extensive public protest or all the local government officials getting involved, said McWater. All that was needed was the right paperwork.
“That’s never happened before,” McWater said. “No one that I know has ever been turned down by the S.L.A. without a huge massive mobilization.”

McWater owns several bars in the East Village and is former vice president of the New York Nightlife Association. But he has said he is trying to rein in the area’s bar explosion, feeling there needs to be a limit.

“I’m the first one to have an intelligent approach to this and am getting results,” he said.

The proposed establishment at 26 First Ave. between E. First and Second Sts. would have been on a block containing nine other establishments with existing liquor licenses, including the popular tourist destination, the transvestite-staffed restaurant Lucky Cheng’s, McWater said.

The space used to house a pet supply store and is a location that’s never been licensed, said Alexandra Militano, chairperson of the C.B. 3 S.L.A. Committee. McWater described the proposed establishment as a “miniclub” that wanted to have D.J.s and promoters. In documents submitted to the S.L.A., the applicant’s principal, Eugene Ferraiolo, said the proposed 1,500-square-foot establishment would be a restaurant with a small bar.

Community boards can recommend that a liquor license application be rejected, but there is no guarantee that the S.L.A., which is located in Albany, will follow its request.

This time, C.B. 3 provided the S.L.A. with its resolution against the liquor license application, as well as written testimony from the 500-foot-rule hearing on the application. The board also solicited a letter from Inspector James McCarthy of the Ninth Precinct in support of C.B. 3’s resolution.

According to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, whenever a new establishment applies to open within 500 feet of three or more establishments with retail licenses for on-premises consumption, the applicant must attend a hearing and prove that the new establishment will be in the public interest of the community. Militano worked closely with the S.L.A. in order to better facilitate the community’s needs, McWater said. “It would not have happened if Alex hadn’t worked as hard with the S.L.A. Alex deserves a ton of credit.”

Militano plans to approach the S.L.A. to find out what specifically led them to deny this application. “It would be good to know, then we would know how to give them better information in the future,” she said.

“It is an opening in what seemed like a wall of approvals,” McWater said. “Maybe we can exploit it and get more of what we want.”

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