UPDATED: Point Beach Votes for 1 a.m. Bar Closing Time
But that won't happen without boardwalk businesses agreeing
The Point Beach Mayor and Council voted narrowly on Tuesday night for bars to stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m.
However, that won't happen without agreement from boardwalk businesses which are appealing the council's May 15 vote to stop serving alcohol at midnight.
Ed McGlynn, an attorney representing Jenkinson's Boardwalk, said after the vote that he and other boardwalk business representatives have not yet decided if they will agree with a 1 a.m. closing and they will not be releasing any information Tuesday.
The vote is an offer of a "compromise," according to the mayor and councilmembers who voted in favor of the 1 a.m. closing time.
Councilmembers Michael Corbally, Bret Gordon, Kristine Tooker and Mayor Vincent Barrella (who broke a tie) voted for the 1 a.m. closing, with Councilmembers William Mayer, Tim Lurie and Stephen Reid voting no.
Like the recent ordinance adopted on May 15, calling for midnight closings, the vote taken Tuesday night also does not call for the town to accept payments from Jenkinson's and Martell's for police services.
Before the vote for the 1 a.m.closing time, there had been a failed vote to allow bars to stay open until 2 a.m., as they do now, and to take the payments offered by the two largest boardwalk businesses. Jenkinson's and Martell's had offered to pay $160,000 for five years, totalling to $800,000 to help pay for police services.
The vote to keep the bars open until 2 a.m., and to accept payments, was supported by Lurie, Mayer and Reid, with Tooker, Gordon and Corbally voting no, and the mayor voting no to break the tie.
Gordon said he was amazed that any of the council members were still considering taking payments from the boardwalk businesses after the boardwalk, in its appeal to ABC, accused the council of "extorting" money from them.
Reid said he still believes it was "extortion" for the council to tell the boardwalk to pay in order to stay open past midnight. However, he said he has always been in favor of negotiations to work out a solution and that he is still in favor of that.
When Jenkinson's and Martell's offered the $800,000, the mayor and some council members had said they could not accept that because there had been no agreement on creating a mechanism for how the town could enforce that those payments would be made and exactly which business would pay which percentage of that total amount.
The council and boardwalk businesses have been nudged by Michael Halfacre, Director of the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control, which is responsible for making a decision on the appeal, to work together to come up with a compromise to help avert a midnight closing.
While Halfacre urged cooperation, he did not dictate that the town should accept the offer of $800,000 from Jenkinson's and Martell's. He just said the two parties should try to come up with a compromise.
If the boardwalk businesses do not agree, then the 1 a.m. closing will not go into effect and the matter will be transferred to the state Office of Administrative Law, which will schedule a hearing, Gertner said.
When asked after the meeting what the difference is between a 1 a.m. cut-off and the current 2 a.m. cut-off, Barrella said the council is trying to compromise at the request of Halfacre.
Barrella said that while the law, as acknowledged by ABC, clearly allows municipalities to regulate bars' hours of operation, there is no way to know how Halfacre will rule, so it was in the town's best interest to offer a compromise.
"Having the law on your side doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win," said Barrella, adding he was basing that comment partially on his own professional experience as a litigator. "You always have to take into account the hazards of litigation.
"If the director didn't ask for a compromise, you wouldn't have heard one," he added.
Thomas Davis, a Point Beach resident running as an Independent for one of two Borough Council seats in the November election, said during the meeting that he commends the councilmembers who voted for the 1 a.m. bar closing.
"I hope it leads to some positive changes," Davis said.
Frank Kineavy, owner of Frankie's Bar and Grill, told the council, as he has told them at previous meetings, "I am again proposing a fact-finding commission, made up of members of council, police, members of the bar business, and residents in District 4, to observe the problems that are in this neighborhood, see where the accountability is, figure out where the problems are and eliminate them.
"If there is a mess down there, I think we should all observe it and really help this town," he said. "We are being asked by the director of the ABC to logically solve a problem. I think if the bars all burned down tomorrow, there would (still) be problems on the boardwalk. I think if we can figure out how to eliiminate the problems, if you come up with the right management principles, I think that would improve the quality of life."
John Morongiello, Atlantic Avenue, asked if the decision is a resolution or an ordinance.
Gertner said, "It's a direction to me" to know how to proceed in further dialogue with ABC.
Gertner said if the offer is accepted by the boardwalk businesses, both parties would consent to a temporary "stay" of the ordinance mandating that alcohol not be served past midnight.
That would give the town time to prepare an amendment to the original ordinance, the "midnight" deadline would be changed to "1 a.m.," the amendment would be advertised, introduced at a council meeting and then adopted at a subsequent council meeting.