Liquor License Transfer Rules Clarified

IMG_0030Laura E. Lee Participants at tonight’s meeting.

The State Liquor Authority Task Force of Community Board 3 approved a resolution tonight that clarifies the terms under which liquor licenses can be transferred when bars and restaurants are sold in the East Village.

The action, which will go to a vote of the full board at its next meeting, allows for “grandfathering” — a process in which the buyer of a business is allowed to assume the license owned by the seller, provided that the business had its license prior to June 28 and other criteria are met.

Before tonight’s meeting, it was unclear how policy changes enacted by the full community board in February would affect applicants who requested a “grandfathered” transfer.

The “grandfathering” provision is not used by other community boards, according to Susan Stetzer, the district manager of Community Board 3. But Community Board 3 allows businesses to apply as transfers, provided they meet other criteria like being deemed responsible business owners — a status evaluated by a review of liquor authority reports, police violations and complaints to the 311 city services information hotline.

The task force also considered revisions of written guidelines and materials to standardize the application process.

“One of the goals should be to have the same criteria asked of everybody,” said member Bob Zuckerman.

The group also discussed resolution areas — regions with high concentrations of licenses and quality of life concerns. Applicants in these zones face an uphill battle because the presumption is that additional licenses should be denied.

Board member David Crane is heading the effort to collect data on noise complaints, population density and nightlife traffic that will be used to assess the resolution areas.

In addition to the “grandfathering” provisions, the task force also began working on plans to develop a best practices guide on noise, security and cleanliness for area bars, restaurants and clubs. The group identified business owners and residents who will be asked to submit information about best practices for nightlife establishments. When the document is finalized, any “grandfathered” businesses will be asked to adopt it as well.

Thursday was the second meeting of the task force and they meet again July 25.