Court: Town can sell three liquor retail distribution licenses

West Milford. Selling three new liquor licenses could bring the township some $600,000 or more in revenue.

Oct 02 2019 | 03:56 PM

A recent decision by the Passaic County Superior Court enables West Milford to issue up to three liquor retail distribution licenses, but opponents of the action are still seeking another interpretation.

After an executive session on Sept. 14, the Township Council unanimously voted in favor of advertising for bids for those interested in buying one or all three of the licenses.

The minimum bid for each license separately is $200,000.

A date for the sale will be set by the township clerk when she determines it appropriate.

“The issuance of the retail distribution license(s) could result in additional revenue to the township,” Township Attorney Fred Semrau said. “It is also seen by supporters of the action as an opportunity for business growth and development.”

Semrau, who argued the case in court for the township, said he advised the governing body that they could take action to advertise for submission of bids.

Currently the township does not have any retail distribution licenses.

A previous ordinance that allowed for the mayor and council to issue the licenses to the highest responsible bidder was challenged by owners of local bar liquor licenses.

“In the court’s opinion the decision of the local governing body, and the basis for the decision to issue the license, are affirmed,” the attorney said.

Semrau said the current township population of 25,250 persons allows the municipality to issue up to three of the new licenses.

Those interested in purchasing one or more of the licenses must pay a $50 fee and fill out paperwork at the office of the township clerk in the municipal building.

The council members can reject a bid if the highest purchase figure offered is not acceptable to them.