Let the good times roll! Community board tables bar moratorium

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A Williamsburg community board has abandoned — at least for now — a bid to halt new bars from coming to the booze-saturated neighborhood.

Community Board 1’s Public Safety Committee tabled a proposal by board Chairman Chris Olechowski to deny new liquor licenses to bars opening on residential side streets or within 500 feet from another bar — a proposal that would have effectively created a moratorium on new taverns.

The proposal was squelched on Thursday night as the regular meeting dragged on long into the night.

But bar owners and would-be bar owners — and a State Liquor Authority official — were on hand to angrily lambast the proposal, pointing out that new bars create jobs and attract free-spending crowds that improve the local economy.

“As long as people are respectful, a blanket moratorium would be indiscrimi­nate,” said Moto’s John McCormick who wants to open a new restaurant called Coldwater Flats on Graham Avenue. “Licenses should be judged on a case-by-case basis.”

The State Liquor Authority has essentially agreed, saying that it had no intention of following a blanket moratorium by this, or any, community board — whose votes are advisory anyway.

But longtime residents said that the neighborhood is oversaturated with bars. And Olechowski was adamant that the board should address quality-of-life issues.

“Who do we work for, the State Liquor Authority or the community?” said Olechowski. “[The liquor license proposal] is a starting point.”

Olechowski floated the moratorium a month ago , modeling his proposal on a similar proposal to curb bars in the East Village.

“When we hear that trash cans are set on fire by rowdy drunken passersby or that knife fights break out in the middle of the street by staggering inebriated bar patrons, we cannot and must not sit by idly waiting until something tragic happens,” said Olechowski.

But some business leaders said that Olechowski’s Prohibitionist bent is misguided.

Greenpoint Business Association co-chair Eric Hall thinks the police should step up enforcement of existing nuisance laws, and the city should increase the penalty for breaking them.

“A [moratorium] might prevent additional problematic establishments from popping up, but it won’t do anything to correct the problem with the existing licensed establishm­ents,” said Hall.

But Community Board 1 member Ward Dennis said that the idea of some kind of moratorium could return in the future.

“Chris’ latest recommendations make sense and are a reasonable approach towards controlling licenses to the extent that we can,” said Dennis. “We will review other policies and look at existing license applications through that lens to see how the policies might work for us.”

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018: Fixes a timeframe problem and now includes a comment from Ward Dennis. Thanks.
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Reasonable discourse

Penny from Williamsburg says:
This neighborhood is oversaturated with bars. John McCormick looking to put yet another establishment on Graham that serves liquor? If it's the location I am thinking of there are almost a dozen other spots that sell liquor in a 3 block radius.

I'm a long time resident of the neighborhood and have really enjoyed seeing many of the new establishments that have sprung up but at this point it's becoming overkill.
May 6, 2011, 6:46 am
Buzzy from 11222 says:
How can we expect the NYPD to step up enforcement on the existing bad bars? Who has the authority to force them (bad bars) to behave? If the State Liquor Authority is going to keep green lighting permits to any bar operator that wants one (and they do) then we are pretty screwed. The SLA's claim that every license is case by case should look into their own negligent practices of bars that operate in an irresponsible manner and often outside the law. Start with the Turkey's Nest on Bedford avenue. Their to go styrofoam cups of beer and margaritas fuel the McCarren Park drunken piss machine on a staggering level. Is the fact that lots of cops enjoy these to go beverages on the soft ball field across the street from the Turkey's Nest part of why this practice has gone on for decades? I support snitching out the bad actors to the SLA, and see if they will do anything about it.
May 6, 2011, 8:40 am
VoiceOfTruth from 11211 says:
CB1 tables illegal unenforceable moratorium, on mere advice given to state liquor authorities. Let's be honest.

Gross olds are ruining williamsburg, why not pay attention to things that really matter like the dangerous Kent & North 6th intersection that had another bad accident last night.
May 6, 2011, 8:59 am
CB1 Member from Williamsburg says:
Although merely a symbolic gesture, an attempt to implement a moratorium has done EXACTLY what the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (not JUST the Chair) desired, attention to the issue of over saturation of establishments serving liquor!

Ultimately, a new day has dawned in Williamsburg; the lax policy of approving liquor licenses (which dates back DECADES) is NO MORE!

Trust, believe and I guarantee that there will be a serve drop in liquor license approvals within CB1. This is not a 'business, jobs, economic development' issue; this is a safety issue.

Longtime residents of Williamsburg and those of us who are INDIGENOUS to the area are disgusted with the transient and irresponsible population patronizing these establishments and the end is upon us!


Aaron: I am usually EXTREMELY supportive of your reporting, but it is IRRESPONSIBLE to claim that:

"…bar owners and would-be bar owners — and a State Liquor Authority official — angrily lambasted the proposal, pointing out that new bars create jobs and attract free-spending crowds that improve the local economy."

This NEVER happened! Did you step out to get a drink at the ‘Warsaw bar,’ return to the meeting and make this up? Dramatic License, much, Sir?
May 6, 2011, 9:51 am
Charley from 11211 says:
Gross olds. That's super amusing. More amusing is your ungross and young POV that deems this problem unimportant. Please get the —— out of our neighborhood, because us gross olds that helped make this neighborhood good enough for you to want to visit aren't going anywhere.
May 6, 2011, 12:44 pm
Longtime Resident from Williamsburg says:
"Gross olds are ruining williamsburg" Listen VoiceOfNonsense, it's not gross olds I see blocking the sidewalks in front of bars, carelessly tossing lit cigarettes all over the place, getting so drunk they're vomiting all over the place, banging on people fences and windows in the middle of the night, making rude remarks to residents. etc.

Nope, not "gross olds" it's you, babe. You trustfunders, hipsters, yuppies, half of the partiers don't even live here, the other half are living here...for the moment, not really engaged in the community.

Moto's owner says “As long as people are respectful, a blanket moratorium would be indiscriminate,” well, they're not respectful, ask anyone who has to fight their way through their rude sidewalk herds, or clean up their broken bottles and vomit. There are too many bars here already, I'd like to see not only a freeze on new licenses, some of these bars whose patrons are the worst offenders, like Trash Bar on Grand need to be told to clean up their act or they'll lose theirs.
May 6, 2011, 3:58 pm
Kyle from Wiliamsburg says:
I live next to a bar in williamsburg and it is HORRIBLE and the owners only care about making money and not being a good neighbor - i constantly call 311 to complain about loud music and rowdy crowds outside my window and they have the loudest oldest AC system on roof that is just HORRIBLE - a ban on bars would go long way to help
May 7, 2011, 5:19 am
ms nomer from williamspoint/greenburg says:
Everyone: It's important to forward your 311 complaint number to the community board - the 311 system does NOT share information with the board, but the board needs to know about bad-neighbor bars when they're considering liquor license renewal applications. CB1 can only learn about these problems directly from you.

When you complain to 311 make sure to get a complaint number. If the representative doesn't give you one, INSIST and if it still doesn't work, ASK FOR A SUPERVISOR. You will get one. And the supervisor will give you a complaint number.

Then call Brooklyn CB1 at (718) 389 0009 or email them at and give them the complaint number, the name/address of the bar, and your contact info so they can follow up. That information will go to the CB1 Public Safety Committee and it's gold to them, believe me. They WANT to know about these problems.
May 7, 2011, 11:55 am
sherry from 11222 says:
In addition to ms nomer's suggestions, people really need to contact the state liquor authority. Their website has a page just for specific complaints about bars and restaurants whose conduct is out of bounds. ( like the turkey's nest to-go beers and booze.) Contact them. Ultimately the SLA is the only agency that can revoke bad bars licenses. So, if you can go through the trouble to call 311 and cb1, then follow through all the way and tell the SLA as well.
May 9, 2011, 4:21 pm

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