Ship Bottom Aims to Create Hotel/Motel Liquor License

Feb 06, 2019

For more than seven decades, new consumption liquor licenses in New Jersey have been based on a town’s population. Like many things in life, there are exceptions to the rule. One of those exceptions for liquor licenses is for hotels or motels with more than 100 rooms.

The Ship Bottom Borough Council took the first step in putting that exception into play last month when it introduced an ordinance creating a liquor license class for hotels/motels and setting the annual fee at $2,500 for that license.

By state statute, a municipality may issue a hotel/motel liquor license even though a new consumption license cannot be issued in the same community due to the population cap, according to the state Office of Attorney General, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) guidebook.

“The municipal resolution must state the license was issued as a hotel exception,” the ABC guidebook reads. “The resolution must also contain a special condition that states the license is issued as a hotel exception license for a facility containing 100 or more sleeping rooms and may only be used in connection with a hotel or motel.”

Based on the population limitations, Ship Bottom fits the state criteria for creating and issuing a hotel/motel exception liquor license. For every 3,000 residents, one consumption liquor license is permitted in a municipality, according to the ABC. The population is based on figures from the last federal census, according to state requirements. Every municipality, according to state law, is entitled to issue one consumption and one distribution license where the population is fewer than 1,000 residents.

“We have seven liquor licenses, all issued prior to the (population) calculation coming into play,” Ship Bottom Borough Clerk Kathleen Wells said.

Currently, the borough has only two classifications for a liquor license: plenary retail consumption and plenary retail distribution, according to its municipal code book. Five of those licenses are for consumption only and two are for distribution.

A plenary retail consumption license permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on a licensed premise either by the glass or open container, according to the ABC guidebook. The license also allows for the sale of package goods for consumption offsite. Those sales may only occur in the principal public barroom and behind the bar, according to state statute.

The guidebook makes it clear no other commercial activity can take place on the premises once the license is issued, except for the operation of certain activities, such as a restaurant, hotel or bowling establishment.

A plenary retail distribution license permits the sale of package goods for consumption off the licensed premises, according to the ABC guidebook.

A public hearing on creating the hotel/motel class for a liquor license is slated for the Ship Bottom council’s next meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 26. All meetings are held in the municipal courtroom at borough hall. The caucus meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with the regular meeting immediately following.

All applications for the liquor license must be submitted by 4 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, Wells said. A public hearing is expected to be held March 26 to determine who the license will be awarded to, Wells said.

In April, the council will transfer the license to the individual or organization it was awarded to, Wells said, noting it’s all part of the process to create the liquor license class.

— Gina G. Scala

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