Belmar's Seasonal Liquor Licenses Not Amended
Borough has three of the state's eight seasonal liquor licenses
Holding its public meeting in the borough hall lobby, the Belmar Planning Board and Borough Council dropped a proposal to update its seasonal and beachfront liquor license laws to match state laws expanding the licenses from May to March.
Borough Administrator Colleen Connolly said the borough found out that due to the specifics of its three seasonal liquor licenses, Belmar would not have to pass its own ordinance expanding beachfront liquor licenses to operate year-round.
Three businesses in town have seasonal liquor licenses — 10th Avenue Burrito and the beachfront businesses of D'Jais and La Dolce Vita — and there are only eight seasonal liquor licenses in the state, said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty.
With a Gov. Christie plan to expand seasonal liquor licenses to include March and April instead of beginning in May, as the state law previously defined, Belmar was debating how to amend its local ordinance to comply with the Christie plan.
The added issue is that having a liquor license operate along the beachfront is not a permitted use in Belmar, said Connolly. The ordinance not introduced tonight would have dealt with that issue, and the Planning Board was scheduled to discuss the matter at 6 p.m. with the borough council meeting at 7 p.m.
However, the board and council dropped the ordinance, after realizing La Dolce Vita was defined not as a tavern or bar but as a restaurant, which exempted it from the liquor license zoning issue. D'Jais was grandfathered in as an business that was in existence before the "no beachfront liquor license" rule went into effect in Belmar, Connolly said.
The third seasonal liquor license for 10th Avenue Burrito is not affected simply because they are not on the beachfront and if they wish could begin serving alcohol in March instead of May thanks to Christie's expansion of the seasonal liquor license laws, Doherty said.
Connolly said Christie is pushing for a longer seasonal liquor license season to help businesses better court customers in March and April, especially businesses struggling after Hurricane Sandy.
The Planning Board and Belmar Council respectively met in the lobby of Borough Hall, after a municipal court session lasted into the scheduled time, 6-8 p.m. Attendees crowded the lobby as officials sat in folding chairs at tables to conduct business.
The proposal, the only item of business on Wednesday's special meeting, was pulled from the agenda.
The meetings were both called as special meetings, held in addition to the regular calendar of meetings for the council.