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Westfield Residents and Council Members Debate Changing Liquor License Law

Jackie Lieberman

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 • 8:36pm

WESTFIELD, NJ — At the Westfield Town Council meeting Tuesday night, resident John Blake brought up proposed changes to Westfield’s liquor laws that would delete certain limitations on premises holding conditional restaurant licenses to allow greater flexibility in their bar service operations. The changes, proposed by the code review and town property committee, would affect five Westfield restaurants.

To read our earlier story about this and other proposed changes, click here.

“At present, you have three bars downtown and you have five restaurants that serve alcohol,” said Blake. He said the change could result in those five restaurants becoming bars that serve food.

Blake warned that, although they knew “the devils with whom you now deal,” the council couldn’t know what kinds of establishments might buy those licenses later.

“You are going to increase the availability by 150 percent,” said Blake, who then warned that there would be a proportionate increase in public safety problems and the need for stronger police presence near those establishments serving alcohol in the evenings.

He said that enforcing the rule that the restaurants must make as much money on food as they do on liquor would be difficult to enforce, noting current enforcement issues regarding tables and chairs from restaurants that take up more of Downtown Westfield’s sidewalks than is allowed.

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After Blake spoke, two residents told the council that they were in favor of the change. 

Councilwoman Vicki Kimmins later told TAP that the proposed change to the liquor licenses has been the subject of many discussions among council members.

“I am totally opposed to a change in our liquor license,” said Kimmins. “I do not agree with comments quoted by other council members and do not understand the current drive or motivation to change our laws. I will be voting against it. I believe it will change the fabric of our downtown. As lovely as Summit and Cranford are, I am not looking for Westfield to become Summit or Cranford. Westfield has the reputation it has for a reason. I enjoy that our town is not full of ‘bars.’ Our downtown sidewalk cafe tables are currently enjoyed by families, and I would like to keep it that way.”

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