Maplewood Looking to Improve Notifications Around Liquor License Transfers

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Maplewood Township officials are looking at changing the way they notice neighbors when liquor licenses change hands.

Mayor Vic DeLuca discussed possible changes at the Township Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 15, coming out of a meeting with neighbors of the soon-to-open Wine Barrel store at Springfield Avenue and Prospect Street (in the old Santander Bank location).

As part of the licensing procedure, owner Atul Gupta agreed he would not permit straws, free paper cups or certain size bottles of beer and alcohol. In addition to wine, beer and liquor, customers will be able to purchase crackers and cheese.

The store will feature a large craft beer selection, Gupta told the Township Committee, which was acting as the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, at a hearing in August.

However, neighbors continued to express concerns about the store, leading the Township to host a meeting with Gupta, facilitated by DeLuca, on September 10.

“We are going to work with Mr. Gupta to meet expectations,” DeLuca reported at the September 15 Township Committee meeting.

A second part of the conversation on September 10 involved the Township’s notification process. Neighbors “felt they had no notice,” said DeLuca despite the fact that the town had met the requirements of the liquor control board by posting two notices in the paper of record.

“It’s just inadequate in this day and age,” said DeLuca, who said that there should be an ABC [Alcohol Beverage Control] page on the Township website “to let people know what the rules are” and explain the different types of licenses.

DeLuca also suggested that when there is an application for place to place or person to person transfer the town should post a notice on the website and “also do an email blast.”

DeLuca made two final suggestions, noting that in New York City when a liquor license transfer is made “there is a posting that gets put on the building.” DeLuca also suggested that the town should require a notice be mailed to households/neighbors within 200 feet through “snail mail,” but he asked Township Counsel Roger Desiderio whether of not the town had the ability to create that requirement under the ABC law.

Desiderio replied, “Yes, they set the minimum standard, but you can certainly do that.” Still, Desiderio questioned whether the town would want to post a notice on a building when it is currently occupied by a business. DeLuca conceded that a viable business may not want customers to know that it is leaving.

After some discussion, Desiderio said would look into the New York City posting requirement and would “work something up” for the next Township Committee meeting. Stay tuned.


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