Ensuring Community Input: Senator Benjamin Passes Liquor License Bill

Brian A. Benjamin

March 20, 2019

(Harlem, NY) Yesterday, Senator Benjamin and the Democratic Senate Majority passed a bill increasing community input in the process for liquor licenses across New York State.  

“I started my public service as a member and then chair of a community board, so I know first hand how important their engagement is. The bill we passed yesterday will ensure that the people who know neighborhoods best will have ample time to weigh in on off-premises liquor license for establishments such as liquor stores in the same manner they weigh in on the liquor license for a restaurant or bar,” said State Senate Brian A. Benjamin.   


This new bill, S1130A,  requires an applicant for an off-premises liquor license to give notice in the same manner as an applicant for any other kind of liquor license. The current law does not specify that an applicant for an off-premises license needs to notify local community boards, municipalities, or post in newspapers.

“I support the legislation. We hold our restaurants accountable for their actions; making sure they hire from the community and give back in some way. It's important to do the same with our liquor stores. They pop-up with no notice to the community board, this way we will be able to at least speak with them and let them know the importance of being a positive member of our community” said Cicely Harris, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 10.

“This bill continues the shift of power to the people.  When community boards are presented on locations of all wine and spirit selling establishments that are coming into the district, we are able to make a more informed decision on the necessity of these establishments, their best locations and the impact that they can have on our community.  We are very encouraged to see this bill go through” said Padmore John, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 9.

“Thanks, Senator Benjamin. CB7 applauds your bill which will ensure that liquor licenses for off site premises must be approved by the local community to prevent bad actors from getting inappropriate licenses” said Roberta Semer Chair of Manhattan Community Board 7.

“Thank you Senator Benjamin for bringing this bill to the floor. It is very important that community boards have the ability to weigh in on all liquor license applications in order to keep track of all and not just some businesses who are getting licenses in the community,” said Nilsa Orama, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 11.

“Wherever alcohol beverages are sold it is imperative that the community knows and is informed as part of the procedure. We welcome being community partners to all types of businesses. We applaud Senator Benjamin’s efforts with these changes to allow community involvement in the approval of these licenses,” said Richard Lewis, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 12.