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Liquor Licenses Renewed, Subcommittee to be Formed

Councilwoman seeks "fair, equitable and legal" solutions for everyone regarding bars, downtown business.

Another year for liquor license renewals has come and gone, with Town Council approving them across the board. 

But, not before making plans to form a subcommittee to make sure they're being good neighbors, to other businesses and to the burgeoning downtown resident population.

Liquor licenses, not only for bars but for any business legally selling alcoholic beverages, go up for renewal at the end of every June. Most passed through at Tuesday's council meeting without much comment–from both the council and residents. But, six licenses, in the cluster of bars downtown near the 40 Park luxury condo development, were separated out because several of its residents had filed letters of complaint. By law, an Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (which also is the Town Council) hearing must then be conducted before a vote can be conducted.

Roseann Loia, a longtime Morristown resident and the very first person to buy a condo at 40 Park two years ago, told the council she is unable to open her windows past 9 a.m. everyday due to the smoke, grease and food smells wafting up through ventilation systems from , which she said are only 12 feet from her residence.

Last year, Loia posted a video on YouTube explaining her ongoing plight in greater detail. "No one looked to the 12 feet beyond," she said.

"It was a dream of mine [to purchase at 40 Park]. I never imagined I would be able to do that," Loia said. "I had no idea this situation would exist. It's unfortunate that it has come to this."

Loia noted she has been told The Office owners, , have said they plan to close the business in July for renovations, which may address the issue. However, she had previously been told that renovation was slated to begin earlier this year.

Marie Rozan, also of 40 Park, has taken issue specifically with , the newest of the bars, because of a trash receptable the business has in the alleyway between the business and the DeHart Street garage. She said other restaurants–those within 40 Park–are utilizing "prime retail space," which keeps it out of public view.

"It's not some alley for them to put their trash," she said. "I don't think it's fair."

The attorneys for The Office and Iron Bar–part of the six that also included , , and /–noted, however, none of the complaints presented at the meeting had any bearing on whether or not the businesses should have their liquor licenses renewed.

Christine Conti-Collins, one of the most vocal 40 Park residents regarding the issue of bars in that area––said she actually had "no real issues with the bars and their licenses, if they're willing to work with us.

"I want the problems addressed, which are health and safety related," she said. "Step up to the plate on the issues you control, for the welfare of your residents."

Those controllable issues, Council Vice President Rebecca Feldman said, should be addressed through a new subcommittee, which would look at the mitigating impacts of the bars and would include input from the town, businesses and–added Conti-Collins–the residents. 

"They could teach you something," Conti-Collins said.

Mayor Tim Dougherty, during the Town Council portion of the meeting, . He said he hoped an agreement could be worked out following that to have more officers in that part of town during that part of the week on a regular basis. The money, an estimated $7,000 a month, would come from the regular police budget, he said.

Conti-Collins said the issues have been there for a long time, but it finally took resident complaints getting out into the open for action to be taken.

"We were being ignored. We don't want to be dismissed, and we certainly don't want to be ignored," she said. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, we gotcha."

That said, Conti-Collins said she felt things were starting to work.

"Thank you for hearing us," she said. "I do trust we'll work [this] out." 

MoTownAnon June 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Wasn't The Office there before Roseann purchased her condo? These people are ridiculous!! They are like people who buy homes near the airport and then complain because of the noise of the aircraft - are you serious???
Roseann Loia June 27, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Those without the intelligence/experience to understand a situation often hide behind their keyboards and their "Anon" identify . Those with integrity, stand publicly in their conviction. We'd all be better off to more constructively express our views!
TC June 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM
People should stop saying that residents knew what they were buying into when they bought residences in town. The Office was there originally but not most of the other bars/restaurants. They are newer and were not there when people bought at 40 Park. I'm sure they never expected the concentrated number of bars that came into the area. Restaurants serving food are one thing, bars are another. The problems have escalated AFTER they moved in, they were not pre-existing and the Office is just one factor with the quality of life issues for residents in the area. I don't live downtown but I sympathize with the residents who do. So the answer to you is YES, they are serious.
Josh June 27, 2012 at 01:01 PM
TC- I beg to differ as The Office, Sona Thirteen, Tashmoo, Dark Horse, Famished Frog were all there long before 40 Park. And everything else was at least a restaurant, so I'm not sure what you would consider pre-existing.
Morristown Mom June 27, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I sympathize with the people at 40 Park, but on the other hand, The Office was cooking food long before 40 Park had windows to open. Tashmoo & The Darkhorse were attracting a young crowd of partiers while 40 Park was an abandonded department store. Instead of going after the small established businesses in town, perhaps they should be asking their developer why they have windows that they can't open due to the design of the buiding over a restaurant. While these residents at 40 Park claim that they just want the bar/restaurant owners to show some type of responsibility, what happened to personal responsibility? When you are buying a residence, it is your personal responsibility to find out how the neighboring businesses may impact your life... for the good and for the bad. The good news is, you are free to sell your place and move somewhere else.
Liz June 27, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I understand that local businesses could do a better job of keeping their business area clean, but what else do you want??? Perhaps 40 Park should build a giant bubble over its building so its tenants won't be contaminated by the wretched urban Morristown life. I just don't get it...why would you move there if you wanted peace and quiet and to smell dafodils or roses...or whatever you think a city should smell like? Why do businesses have to be punished and make all the sacrifices? Aren't they part of the reason you decided to move into the middle of downtown Morristown?
TC June 27, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Nevertheless, the residents of 40 Park have as much a right to complain as anyone, due to the hundreds of people hanging out and drinking downtown on the weekends. The new Iron Bar has a capacity of 800 alone. If Morristown wants to continue to attract a balanced community, it needs to listen and act on resident's concerns, which are quality of life issues in the area such as garbage, excessive noise, destructive and disorderly behavior, among others. There are more apartments and town homes on the way in the downtown area and potential buyers will have the same concerns as those of 40 Park and the entire neighborhood in general.
Ryan June 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Seems like some people have nothing better to do than complain. 40 Park's own website advertised that it would be a spot for dining when it was initially selling the condos (it might still even say that now, I didn't take the time to look). How could one not expect that to include bars? These complaints are overly exaggerated and fail to realize that more than just bars contribute to these problems.
Jason B Fowler June 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
That's it close all the bars and restaurants in Morristown! Where will the residents then go eat, I guess to other towns. There are sacrifices that one makes when moving to a downtown residents, like living near highways or airports. I am not sure a complaint about an exhaust system from a kitchen is a valid one. As a resident of Morristown for more then 35 year, there are issue that I have as well with some of the bars, to see puke and broken bottles in the morning when I am out and about, it is gross and the town needs to step up and get involved. Further the ally from DeHart St to Market St behind is always full of garbage broken bottles and grease on the drive way. Further this is a no parking area and on any given night, there are cars packed in this area, my guess is the staff from the establishments. The real problem is not establishments (well, maybe they are over serving alcohol to their guest) but the guest of these establishments who have no regard for our town.
Ryan June 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Aren't there garages to park in right on Dehart and Schuyler streets?
Jason B Fowler June 27, 2012 at 03:33 PM
That is exactly why they are there, but I guess the town is not enforcing the no parking signs. But while they are at it they might as well enforce the no stopping or parking on the right side of Market St. Many delivery trucks use this area mid day and it backs up traffic all the way down the street. There is a loading zone at the top of Market St on the left side. Most of these issue seem more around enforcement, which I know from sources in the PD is a problem in the town. They just had 4 police officers that quit and while the Mayor states the PD will be hiring 4 officers, he doesn't say how long it will be. They have no one in the pipeline, which means they need to hire and send them to the Academy (16 months out before they hit the streets).
Bec Soda June 27, 2012 at 05:16 PM
The highest concentration of bars is in that area, and to say 2 years ago they weren't there is ridiculous. The Office has been there probably 20 years. My husband was in a bar band for the past six years. Nothing has changed . Restaurant vents and garbage on the street didn't just appear. Morristown is a zoo on weekend nights till everyone is done getting a "second dinner" at Cluck U at 2AM and goes home. I live farther from town and the deer eat everything in my yard. That is the bad part about living where i do, but it isn't someone else's fault, it is mine for buying here....see how that works?
Nadine June 29, 2012 at 12:41 AM
THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT 40 PARK. What about the surrounding streets in the area of these bars, where residents are awakened by the loudness of drunk people, at 2 and 3 a.m. after leaving the bars, not to mention the debris they leave on or near our home. We are tired of reading about bar owners needing to control some of their rowdy customers and cleaning the front of their properties, however, we are not on South Street but in the surrounding neighborhood. What good will a police officer patrolling South Street do, when the customers of the approx. 15 bars in the short radius of the Green scatter out at the end of their evening and go to their cars parked on our street. It's about time the residents bordering South Street become a part of the dialogue to state their objections to ADDITIONAL BARS. The way things are going now, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, or worse, as the number of people on South Street increase in size and become unruly. The best way to solve a problem is to avoid it. WE HAVE ENOUGH BARS WITHOUT ADDING MORE, such as the proposed DeHart bowling bar - and the ones that already exist need more enforcement to control increasingly large crowds. We love Morristown and it is sad to see the direction it is going in with all these new bars.
Motown Resident June 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM
The "bowling alley" is an accepted zoning use in the downtown business district. People fail to realize that both the residents of Community Place and 40 Park sought variances to live where they do. Now they're complaining about the decisions they willingly made...............................it's not like the bar owners can move there licenses to a neighborhood. The only area in town to have a bar is where it's a permitted zoning use, which the bars are. When you reduce the area of allowable locations due to schools, churches, and parking requirements it appears to be slim pickings. I suggest the cry babies of 40 Park and Community Place "man-up" and accept the downtown living concept of Morristown. You asked to live here, you sought a variance for that right, paid to live there........so accept it or move, that's your right as well. There are plenty of transitional neighborhoods that will allow you walk into town while being a little more sedate. Your not going to close down traffic around the "green" at 10 PM when you choose to go to bed nor stop commercial garbage trucks from picking up the garbage in the "business district". I agree with the other readers, your like the people who buy a home by the airport and then complain about the noise from the planes.............Morristown needs more businesses and more jobs for there residents. A bowling alley is a wonderful addition to our town...................
Jason B Fowler June 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Agreed, and we should be so lucky that people are opening business in Morristown in these tough economic times. We could have the Town we did 15 years ago when it was a ghost town. This comes down to an enforcement issue.
Ryan June 29, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Well said. Most of these complaints are wildly exaggerated anyway.
FR June 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Why don't you just tell the entire neighborhood surrounding the downtown area to move out too?? Do you know what a "mixed use neighborhood" even means and working towards keeping a balance with an eye to the long term health of our downtown? There are many more residents than just those at 40 Park and Community Place concerned about the number of bars in the area. There are more homes being built on Maple and coming on Dehart also. And by the way, the boutique bowling alley is just a new bar ( actually 3 bar levels in one building ) with some lanes attached, not a regulation bowling alley in the usual way. A true regulation bowling alley would be a wonderful addition to our town in a different location where there is appropriate space.
Motown Resident June 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The bowling alley is in the central business district. A bar or a bowling alley are both accepted zoning uses. It is not in a "mixed use neighborhood", it's in the business district. 40 Park sought and received a variance to put residences in the "business district". I am all for a better Morristown, but it's a slippery slope if you start considering our down town as a mixed use neighborhood. These issues were raised prior to building 40 Park with the residences and we were assured that the future residents of 40 Park would welcome the urban environment, this is proving not to be the case.
FR June 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It is absolutely a mixed use as it exists now, and even more so as the new townhomes and apartments are built in the area. There needs to be careful planning for the future of these already and future businesses AND residences to co-exist.
Ryan June 29, 2012 at 04:57 PM
A true regulation bowling alley would also have a bar. Probably a big one. Wouldn't survive without it.

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