Final Step in Awarding Liquor License to Hotel LBI Expected This Month

Apr 03, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The approval of Resolution 2019-49 awarding a hotel liquor license to Baldwin Residence LLC, trading as Hotel LBI, by the Ship Bottom Borough Council at its March meeting was a formality. By state statute, a municipality may issue a hotel/motel liquor license to any hotel/motel that qualifies, Kathleen Wells, borough clerk, said during the March 26 meeting.

“It’s an exception to the population cap,” she said prior to the public hearing on the liquor license application being opened to the audience, explaining the actual transfer of the liquor license would come after the council’s April 23 meeting. “It takes three resolutions and a public hearing” for it to become official.

Baldwin Residence is the only hotel/motel within the borough to qualify for the liquor license.

The municipal resolution, according to the state Office of Attorney General, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control guidebook, must state the liquor license was issued as a hotel containing 100 or more sleeping rooms. It also mandates the liquor license be used in conjunction with a hotel or motel only.

Hotel LBI is the 102-room luxury hotel at the site of the former State Room, previously the Quarter Deck, between Eighth and Ninth streets where the Causeway enters Long Beach Island.

“Because the Quarter Deck had a liquor license,” borough resident Barbara Bishop began her comments during the public hearing, “is this a different license? And what happened to the other license?”

Bishop was the only member of the public to speak during the public hearing.

“That license is a plenary retail consumption,” Wells said, noting that liquor license is now considered a pocket license, also known as an inactive license. It may be used at another location or sold by the owner, she said.

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

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, as outlined in the ABC guidebook.

Under state statute, a municipality has the authority to renew an inactive or pocket license. If the license has been inactive for more than two license terms, the holder must file the necessary paperwork with the state ABC director, along with a copy to the municipality, outlining what efforts have been made to use the license at an operating business and any future plans for activating the license.

“The municipality must accept the timely filed application and the fees; however, the license may not be renewed by resolution until a Special Ruling is issued by the Director which authorizes the municipality to renew the license,” according to the ABC guidebook.

All retail licenses are renewed for one year, beginning July 1.

If the pocket license for the former State Room is sold, the individual seeking to hold it would undergo all the formalities associated with buying a liquor license in the state of New Jersey, including a background check, Wells said.

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.

Construction on Hotel LBI began last year and is expected to be completed later this spring. The owner is seeking a waiver from the requirement of normal site plan detail before the borough’s land use board later this month.

The issue stems from the inadvertent exclusion of balconies, located on the east side of the property overlooking the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, from the site plan, according to paperwork filed with the borough earlier this year. There’s a 20-foot side-yard setback requirement, but Baldwin Residence was previously granted a 5-foot setback. It is now seeking a zero-foot setback requirement for the balconies and a proposed landing and staircase from a porch on the northeast corner of the property.

The land use board is expected to hear the application when it convenes at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17.

— Gina G. Scala

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