In the recent unpublished Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division case of North Star Saddle Brook Management, LLC v. Township of Saddle Brook and NJ Division of ABC, Docket No. A-3009-09T3, the Court summarized the procedure to be followed for a municipality to issue a new plenary retail consumption liquor license.
The Director of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control found that the Township of Saddle Brook had no legal obligation to consider North Star's application. The Director stated in his decision that before a new license is issued, the municipality must determine, by ordinance or resolution, that it is in the public interest to do so. Then, the Township is required to afford all interested parties an opportunity to apply for the license or bid upon the license at a public sale. Because the Township had not passed a resolution calling for the issuance of the license, and had not sought applications or bids for the license, the Township had no obligation to consider the application or grant the license.
The applicant, North Star Saddle Brook Management, LLC argued that it was entitled to the issuance of a new license under the hotel/motel exception in N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.20.
N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.14 limits the number of new plenary and seasonal retail consumption licenses that may be issued in a municipality, according to its population, as determined by the “most recent estimates” of the federal census bureau or the “official federal decennial counts.” If the governing body of the municipality is authorized to issue the license, and determines to do so, it must adopt a resolution authorizing the issue of the license. N.J.S.A. 33:1-19.1.
The fact that North Star was seeking a license for use in a hotel does not compel a contrary result. Although N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.20(a) provides that “nothing in this act” precludes a municipality from issuing a new license to a person who operates a hotel, the “act” referred to in this statute is the legislation initially enacted in 1947 and codified in N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.13 to -12.22, rather than the entire ABC Act.
The hotel/motel exemption does not relieve a municipality of the statutory duty to pass a resolution finding that the issuance of a new license is warranted. The fact that a license could be issued to a hotel or motel does not mean that the application or bid process required by N.J.S.A. 33:1-19.1 and N.J.S.A. 33:1-19.4 would be impractical or unnecessary.
Furthermore, even if the township had been required to consider the application on its merits, the Director correctly determined that the Township had a sufficient basis for refusing to issue the license as another entity was selling alcoholic beverages at North Star's hotel pursuant to a management agreement.
Contact the experienced New Jersey ABC attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. to discuss any questions you may have regarding the liquor license laws of the State of New Jersey. Call (732) 540-1233.
North Star Saddle Brook Management, LLC v. Township of Saddle Brook and NJ Division of ABC, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-3009-09T3, submitted February 15, 2011; decided March 22, 2011; unpublished decision.
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