Volume 73, Number 44 | March 3 - 9, 2004



Board 3 sends the State Liquor Authority a message

By Albert Amateau

Citing one Lower East Side street with 15 existing liquor licenses along a two-block stretch, Community Board 3 last week resolved to recommend that the State Liquor Authority grant no more licenses, nor broadening of existing licenses, in areas deemed over-saturated by bars.

The Feb. 24 resolution followed the lead of a board committee that leveled severe criticism at the S.L.A., and designated areas overwhelmed by bars, clubs and lounges. “The New York S.L.A. has failed this community by ignoring the personal, historic and geographical experience of Community Board 3 and its residents who have advised the [S.L.A.] through moratoria, complaints and motions about the detrimental effects of continuing to grant licenses with certain areas,” the resolution says.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not commenting on applications,” said Harvey Epstein, chairperson of the board, which covers the East Village and the Lower East Side. “We are commenting and making it as clear as possible that we’re denying applications for areas that are already saturated. Police tell us that these are problems areas — noise and traffic — residents tell us about rowdy crowds — everyone is on the same page except the S.L.A.,” he said in a phone interview on Mon., March 1.

Community board recommendations, however, are strictly advisory. Mark Anderson, an S.L.A. spokesperson, has said the agency “welcomes and values” board input.

Howard Slonim, president of the Orchard St. Lower East Side Business Improvement District and owner of a real estate agency in the BID area, was ambivalent about the liquor license issue. “I hope that restaurant bars that operate full kitchens will be able to get licenses,” he said. He suggested that licensed establishments could flourish between Delancey and Division Sts., south of the trendy bar and club areas.

Epstein insisted that the C.B. 3 resolution is not “anti-bar” or anti-business. “You can’t have just one type of business. If it’s all bars, it destroys the fabric of the neighborhood,” he said.

The resolution notes that Community Board 3 has “reviewed several hundred liquor licenses applications within this past year and approved more than 150.”

The S.L.A. is required to hold a hearing whenever there are three or more licensed premises within 500 ft. of a new location to determine if a new license is “in the public interest.” The 500-ft. rule was enacted to review the potential over-saturation of a neighborhood by bars and clubs. But the C.B. 3 resolution protests that the S.L.A. grants many licenses based on economic benefit to a community, “despite the increasingly deleterious effects of so many licensed nighttime businesses on the quality of life.”

Among the 11 areas deemed over-saturated are:

Clinton St. between Houston and Rivington Sts., currently with 15 liquor licenses (seven between Houston and Stanton Sts. and eight between Stanton and Rivington Sts.); Ludlow St. between Houston and Delancey Sts, with nine licenses (six between Houston and Stanton Sts., and three between Stanton and Delancey Sts.); St. Mark’s Pl. between First Ave. and Avenue A with 14 liquor licenses; St. Mark’s between Second and Third Aves. with 13 licenses and two pending applications; Avenue A between Houston and 14th Sts. with 37 licenses; and Orchard St. between Houston and Rivington Sts. with eight licenses.

Other areas include short stretches of E. Sixth St., Avenue C, Rivington St. and First Ave.

The three-block stretch on Rivington between Norfolk and Orchard Sts. has 11 liquor licenses, including a new hotel between Ludlow and Orchard Sts., with a lounge, a club and a 5,000-sq.-ft. restaurant.


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