Renewed hope for Lakeview
Council will introduce ordinance at Sept. 17 meeting
BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK
HEWITT — The township council will discuss repealing an ordinance that requires liquor licenses to be more than 2,500 feet from another establishment with a license at its Sept. 17 meeting.
The discussion started in May when a proposed liquor license transfer for a business in the Cottage Cove neighborhood brought out several residents from the tiny private road and business owners in the surrounding area who said allowing the transfer would ruin the neighborhood and place a hardship on the existing businesses.
The council Wednesday night indicated they may be willing to change the ordinance that limits where a business serving liquor can be, which would then allow this requested transfer to take place.
Elena Dykstra, owner of the Greenwood Lake Marina and a West Milford resident, bought the property, which was known as The Lakeview, and wants to open a restaurant that sells liquor at the site. She wants Angelo Juliano, who owns a "pocket license," to run a family-friendly restaurant. The problem is The Lakeview is located within 2,500 feet of three other liquor license holders. Local law states that liquor licenses cannot be transferred if the location is within 2,500 feet from another license. This location, at 1934 Greenwood Lake Turnpike, is within 2,500 feet of three other liquor license holders.
Councilwoman CarlLa Horton said she doesn't see the point of the ordinance.
"I am totally open to rescinding that ordinance," said Horton.
Mayor Bettina Bieri said the ordinance was written years ago to minimize bar hopping. But Horton said spreading the bars out encourages people to drink and then drive to the next venue.
Even changing this ordinance will not increase the number of establishments serving alcohol allowed within the town. Bieri said the state sets that number.
Back in May, residents of the area, which sits right on Greenwood Lake, said they were concerned with the safety of their neighborhood from both land and water.
The property has nine docks. Dykstra wants people who are out on the lake to be able to drive their boats up to the restaurant and have something to eat and drink, then sail out again. Residents said they were concerned with their swimming area and the safety of their kids. They are also worried that traffic on their private road will increase. They complained that even without an establishment there, the traffic is bad because people are hanging out at all hours of the day and night.
No business this season
Dykstra has not rented out the slips this year, township attorney Fred Semrau noted. But that doesn't mean she won't next year.
Councilwoman Michele Dale said the owner has a right to rent these dock spaces and yet she didn't.
"She gave up income," said Dale.
Dale asked if the council could change the ordinance for this particular location and then change it back if needed later.
"We have a responsible business owner at this point," said Dale. "If we change it and get an irresponsible business owner, can we change it back?"
No, said Semrau. The change would be to the ordinance and would affect the entire township.
Councilman Lou Signorino asked "Why now?" He said plenty of people have been interested in this property in the past and were told a liquor license was not allowed there.
"I'm just letting you know what I'm hearing from people," said Signorino.
Township Clerk Antoinette Battaglia said her office gives out copies of the Alcoholic Beverage Control law and the township rules that exist at the time when someone inquires.
"I'd say the squeaky wheel got the oil," said Dale, noting that this owner came to the council and asked for it to be changed while others didn't.
"I'm ready to ask for an ordinance rescinding the requirement of 2,500 feet," said Bieri.
The ordinance will be drafted and introduced at the Sept. 17 meeting. A public hearing will be held in October and, if the majority of the council agrees, it will be adopted.
What do you think? Should the distance requirement be repealed? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and tell us how you feel about it.
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