Officials look to expedite liquor licensing

ALBANY - Enterprises seeking to obtain a liquor license - lately facing frustrating, lengthy delays - may get relief if a new measure becomes law.

A bipartisan state Senate bill would speed up liquor licensing for bars and restaurants across New York State. If adopted, the amendment to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law would establish a temporary licensing procedure for businesses seeking a permanent liquor license.

"The current laws go back to the days of the Mafia," bill co-sponsor state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said April 15. "There needs to be different classifications for different types of establishments."

Little is co-sponsoring the bill with state Sen. David Valeski (D-Oneida).

Little said that the one-size-fits-all approach of the state's liquor authority is creating a huge backlog for state officials and harming businesses who often wait months before they can serve a drink.

"A bistro selling wine is not the same thing as a night club in Manhattan," Little said. "The application even asks what kind of music the business plays - the whole process is ridiculous."

Current state law has only one type of liquor license regardless of the type of business that is seeking one.

Under the proposed bill, after a business has applied for a liquor license they would be issued a temporary license. This would greatly help business owners who must still pay operating costs as they wait to be licensed, Little said.

"There is a huge backlog at the state and this is really hurting local businesses," Little said. "They asked the Copperfield the height of their building - what does that have to do with anything?"

The Copperfield Inn in North Creek waited for over two months before finally receiving their liquor license this past week.

Little said that the current laws are antiquated and that questions pertaining to types of music an establishment plays or the height of the structure are not pertinent information.

"The authority argues that it tells them what kind of people go there," she said. "Does that really matter?"

The bill is currently in committee in the state Senate.

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