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Supers Debate alcohol hours

Essex County Board of Supervisors

Essex County Board of Supervisors Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Essex County Lawmakers have come up with a compromise when it comes to the matter of when “closing time” will be here.

Members of the Public Safety Committee voted April 8 to turn back the clock on the time bars and restaurants can serve alcohol — from 4 a.m. until 3 a.m. Last month, the committee tabled a resolution that would have moved last call up to 2 a.m.

Mac MacDevitt of the Prevention Team presented the committee with information on cutting back on serving times.

“The CDC is very concerned about this,” MacDevitt said. “They see the way that alcohol is being used in this country as really an epidemic that something has to be done about. The alcohol industry is gearing up. They are getting very clever on how they market to young people and New York state is open for business when it comes to alcohol right now.”

MacDevitt said that any decision made by the board to change the hours would have to be reviewed and agreed upon by the New York State Liquor Authority.

“They will make the final decision. They will hold a public hearing here to collect information before making a final decision,” he said. “Alcohol in this state is very highly regulated here in the state.”

Members of the committee asked MacDevitt if keeping drinking within state regulated facilities would be a better way to deter the misuse of alcohol.

“In an ABC licensed premises, is binge drinking a concern there?” Lewis Supervisor Dave Blades asked. “I just think that a licensed premises would be able to handle the problem more than closing earlier and people going to other places.”

“It is a problem with licensed premises because when police pull people over, they asked where they got their last drink and they tell them it was at the bar,” MacDevitt said.

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NYBARGUY 1 year ago

As a former bar owner who now regularly assists bar and restaurant owners with New York State liquor license applications, disciplinary matters and alcohol awareness training, I can attest that nothing good happens at bars between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. The 3 a.m. proposal seems to be a reasonable compromise, and the supervisors may actually be doing these licensees a favor. If all of the licensees in the county close at 3 a.m., patrons won't leave to go elsewhere at 3 a.m. In all likelihood, they'll just go home. When negotiating stipulated closing hours for my bar clients in exchange for support for an applications from community boards and town/city government officials, I generally draw the line at 3 a.m. for one important reason: Many people work 4-12 am shifts and then head out to eat, relax with a drink etc. If over-serving really is a problem in this county, there are many other ways to deal with that short of changing closing hours. The community already has the tools in the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to address over-serving and bars that are not properly supervised. -- John Springer, www.liquorlicensenewyork.com, www.nybarguy.com>

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