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Inside Vito Lopez’s secret meeting with the state booze commish

The Brooklyn Paper
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Barflies beware — Vito Lopez wants to calm your party down.

The powerful Williamsburg assemblyman and other community leaders held a private meeting last month with the State Liquor Authority and demanded that he regulate the “oversatura­tion and proliferat­ion” of new bars and liquor-serving restaurants in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Lopez (D–Williamsbu­rg) requested that Liquor Authority Commissioner Dennis Rosen review of all existing liquor licenses in his district and urged the agency to listen to Community Board 1 members’ complaints to curb bars in Williamsburg.

After the meeting in Lopez’s S. Fifth Street office, a liquor authority spokesman said that the state would consider stronger regulations, but maintained that an outright ban on new bars is a non-starter.

“We can’t do a moratorium because of a state statute,” said spokesman Bill Crowley. “What we have to do is look at each license individually, but saturation is something we can consider when making a decision.”

The liquor has been flowing freely in Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhoods for much of the decade.

And CB1 has typically rubber-stamped most new liquor applications and renewals.

In 2010, the board approved 138 new liquor licenses. In the first three months of 2011, it approved 54, well ahead of last year’s pace.

Perhaps that’s why board members pushed back this spring, with Chairman Chris Olechowski floating a moratorium on all new liquor licenses. The idea never gained traction, but board members began exploring other strategies, such as more rules to require bars to tamp down noise — and more rejections for new licenses within 500 feet of existing bars.

The police are reacting as well.

Officers have led several crackdowns in the past month, including two bars in Greenpoint and a Williamsburg rooftop film event.

Police even arrested the owner of Coco66 in Greenpoint for operating his bar with an expired liquor license. He was released 36 hours later, but Coco66 remains shuttered.

Updated 12:10 am, August 2, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

voter from park slope says:
It's good to see that Lopez is working hard to pressure an agency that sometimes seems like it has no concern for community concerns. Too many bars in one area can subject neighborhoods to the worst drunken behavior, including drunk driving.

Speaking of drunk driving, why hasn't your paper run a single article on the DWI arrest of former Brooklyn Assemblyman Darryl Towns? He crashed his car then failed a breath test, and now faces criminal charges. His next criminal hearing is today, August 2nd. I have also read somewhere that his sister Deirdra Towns was also arrested for driving while drunk, is this true?
Aug. 2, 2011, 6:28 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Isn't he supposed to be in jail by now?
Aug. 2, 2011, 6:57 am
Hammered from Too drunk to remember says:
Who were the other community leaders attending this" secret" meeting? Are you permitted to say who leaked this information to you? How did you get the liquor authority to comment about this secret meeting? Great investigative reporting!
Aug. 2, 2011, 8:43 am
Brett from 11222 says:
No! Without bars like the Turkey's Nest selling beer and margaritas in to go cups to take to the park, how will I be a proper hipster? Guess I'll have to start using that flask I got as a graduation present. Damn the man.
Aug. 2, 2011, 9:22 am
jb from williamsburg says:
This guy must not understand how business works. Every new liquor license is not just for a bar, but for a restaurant that both create over 20 jobs each the minute they open. Job creation is what this City, and Country need. Also Williamsburg now has thousands of people coming here on the weekends to go out. All of that creates more taxes, more revenue for local businesses and promotes the area as up and coming which drives real estate upward.

Lets be real, This man needs a class in Economics.
Aug. 2, 2011, 9:48 am
kelly from park slope says:
cuz in these hard times, it's important that we not get too drunk
Aug. 2, 2011, 11:57 am
O'Toole from Bushwick says:
Vito looks like he can use a Campari and soda, or three.
Aug. 2, 2011, 11:49 pm
Me from yOUR HOUSE says:
Campari? REALLY? Talk about being prejudice!
Aug. 3, 2011, 3:19 am
MMM MMM from Good says:
Campari is yummy.
Aug. 7, 2011, 10:43 pm
Kyle from Bushwick says:
I hate the bars around me. I see all these white hipster yuppies out having fun and just having fun. Its not natural in this neighborhood. Ive lived here for 15 years now and its getting worse.

Where are the good ol days where you could be on welfare, get food stamps and free medicaid stuff. Man I use to be able to drink all the malt liquor and eat as much chicken as a I wanted but now with all these new hipsters... malt liqour is gone and chicken costs an arm and a leg.
Aug. 17, 2011, 6:32 pm

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