Liquor store owners hire lawyer to fight ordinance

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  • Liquor store owners, seen at West Milford Town Hall Wednesday, are protesting an ordinance that would allow the town to issue its first retail distribution license. photo by ann Genader

  • James Aiello, owner of Greenwood Lake Discount Liquors, tells township officials that he and others are challenging the legality of the new ordinance. Photo by Ann Genader

(Editor's note: Due to an editing error, Steve Castronova's title was misidentified in the print version of this week's West Milford Messenger. The former candidate for Town Council is a longtime member of the township's Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment. This story has been corrected. We regret the error.)


Liquor store owners told the Town Council Wednesday that an ordinance allowing the township's first retail distribution license would hurt their businesses.

A half-dozen speakers raised concerns and objections at the township's workshop.

Several of them have hired a lawyer to look into the legality of the ordinance, which was adopted last month.

Peter R. Bray, of Bray and Bray LLC of Parsippany sent the council notification that the law firm was representing Uncorked Wines & Spirits, Plaza Bar & Liquors and Greenwood Lake Discount Liquors.

Bray wrote that the firm has been engaged to challenge the bona fides and the legality of the Ordnance 2017-008. He said that the township is currently soliciting bids for the purchase of a D-license that they propose to issue pursuant to the ordinance

Steve Castronova, co-owner of the Valley View Pub, the first to speak, said it is unfortunate that the township many years ago chose to grandfather licenses that had been issued long before there were township laws controlling sale of alcoholic beverages. He said the township would need to have a population of 112,000 people to be allowed to have as many licenses as there are. There are currently 26,000 people living in the township. Castronova added that the township should support the businesses that exist.

He also addressed rumors that the new license is likely to go to the long-vacant A&P. Castronova said none of the businessmen like vacant buildings, but more liquor stores are not needed.

James Aiello, owner of Greenwood Lake Discount Liquors said the current businesses have strict regulations that won’t apply with the new license – including display advantage and no buffer between the competing businesses.

Mayor Bettina Bieri and council members followed Township Attorney Fred Semrau’s advice and did not respond to the comments because of pending litigation.

Semrau said proposals have gone out for bid but this does not mean that one particular location is slated. He added that there still are a number of steps to be taken before a license can be issued and there is no destination for it now.

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