Essex County Board of Supervisors
While there was little opposition to changing the rules for alcohol sales during the Essex County Board of Supervisors meeting May 6, most of the discussion focused on a change to when it could be sold on a specific day.
The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that calls for the cutting back of hours bars and other establishments can serve alcoholic beverages from 4 a.m. until 3 a.m., with only Newcomb Supervisor George Canon voting against the measure (Minerva’s Sue Montgomery Corey and Westport’s Dan Connell were absent).
Along with the hours, the board also did away with the prohibition of alcohol sales in stores between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
“Nobody ever knew that they could not sell liquor in their stores from 1 to 3 p.m. on Good Friday, so why keep something in the books when it is not being enforced?” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said.
“I had forgotten about this, but I remembered that we did close for those hours when I was a kid and my parents ran a business where alcohol was served,” Jay Supervisor and board chairman Randy Douglas said. “We would shut down during those hours.”
Some supervisors questioned if there should be a law concerning alcohol sales based on a religious holiday.
“I was surprised to hear that there was a law that was enforced with Good Friday,” Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley said. “I think that we should stay out of that. A religion law is something that is personal.”
“I think you are walking on a thin line when it comes to regulating sales for a religious purpose,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said.
Schroon Supervisor Michael Marnell said he felt that if there was a law on the books regarding sales on Good Friday, there should also be one regarding Christmas Eve.
“Again, that is a religious holiday. I don’t think we should be looking at that,” Scozzafava said. “You never know, the spouse may want them to go to the bar on Christmas Eve.”
Canon, the lone vote against the resolution, had said he would not support the measure based on the input he received from his local owners.
“My local establishment is not in favor of this so I am not going to support it,” Canon said.
Mac MacDevitt of the Prevention Team, who presented the board with the original proposal to change serving hours from 4 a.m. until 2 a.m., said he felt this was a step in the right direction when it comes to curving alcohol abuse.
“We need to do all we can to prevent alcohol-fueled problems in our communities,” MacDevitt said. “By voting to request that the New York State Liquor Authority roll back the bar closing hours from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m., they have taken an important first step to protect the health and safety Essex County residents from the impacts of binge drinking.”
However, MacDevitt said more should be done.
“Individual towns can decide what type of alcohol outlets, if any, they want to permit in their communities,” he said. “Towns can request that the State Liquor Authority set common sense restrictions on how alcohol is sold or served at special events. Local law enforcement can learn how to work more closely with the SLA to bring problem alcohol outlets into compliance with state law.”
The resolution will now go to the New York State Alcohol Review Board, which will make a determination and would then hold a public hearing locally before making a final decision.