Despite some public skepticism, Bayonne City Council approves BYOB ordinance

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Although several Bayonne residents implored the Bayonne City Council to vote down an ordinance to allow customers to bring their own alcohol to restaurants without a liquor license, the governing body approved the measure by a vote of 4-1.

Many residents who spoke during the public portion of the hearing expressed concern and angst that if Bayonne allows restaurants without a liquor license to offer diners the option to BYOB, then that would be not only unfair to restaurants who have paid six figures for a liquor license, but it would devalue liquor licenses in the long run.

However,  Council President Sharon Nadrowski made the argument that many different towns throughout New Jersey have seen economic benefits and, more importantly, no diminution in the value of liquor licenses.

She also added that Bayonne is only one of three municipalities in the state that does not have a BYOB ordinance on the books.

“Everyone keeps throwing out there this idea that if we enact a BYOB ordinance that somehow that will diminish the value of liquor licenses. But in other towns throughout New Jersey, BYOB works,” she exclaimed.

“We are just one of three townships in the state that do not have a BYOB ordinance. Research shows that BYOB hasn’t devalued liquor licenses.”

Bayonne resident Kevin Kuhl directed his question to Nadrowski, asking how could she make the argument that liquor licenses wouldn’t be devalued.

“When you say that it will not devalue our licenses because it hasn’t devalued licenses in other towns [you] should consider a town like Cranford. They have six liquor licenses with a 25,000 population [compared] to our 70 licenses with a population of 66,000,” he argued.

“Our licenses will be devalued. Their licenses won’t be devalued because they aren’t issuing new liquor licenses, but we have the availability for businesses here to purchase them.”

Still, the council President said in return, the main reason for the devaluation of current liquor licenses, are those that are kept inactive by businesses who hold onto them with the intention of using them when they open a new establishment.

Just when the City Clerk Bob Sloan called for a vote on the ordinance, Nadrowski interrupted to say that she wanted to add an amendment to the ordinance so that the city can revisit the measure’s impact on businesses in 2018.

Ultimately, the ordinance passed, but not before Third Ward Councilman Gary Le Pelusa said that even with the sunset provision limiting the BYOB ordinance to one year, he was voting no, which drew a loud applause in the council chambers.