Monday, August 21, 2017

Welcome to the New Alcoholic Beverage Commission

Plainfield City Council has served as the local Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC for short) for many years.  The ABC reviews and renews liquor licenses annually.  Earlier this year this responsibility was handed over to a citizen commission appointed by the Mayor and Council.

I was reluctant at first to give this up but the wisdom of this decision is already clear.  I've spoken to the commissioners and their plans are encouraging. The chairman, Oscar Riba, is a retired bar owner and with his fellow commissioners, have begun to draft new ordinances to improve enforcement of ABC laws.

There are two major issues facing Plainfield's liquor license approvals and renewals.  Some of our bars have all too frequent calls for police to deal with disorderly conduct.  The ABC can impose conditions on a bar that has disorderly conduct problems and/or is not complying with the law.  This can include hiring security staff and installing video surveillance cameras.  Ultimately the ABC can deny a license but needs to use a progressive discipline approach to avoid having the state ABC overturning a local decision on appeal.  When the ABC was under our City Council, it has imposed conditions on occasion but not often enough.  It seems that some city council members were susceptible to influence by liquor license holders.

The state law has a limit on licenses allowed in each municipality based on population.  Cities like Plainfield over the limit when the state law went into effect were allowed to grandfather the licenses in effect at that time. Now we want new restaurant licenses to stimulate downtown development and, Plainfield being over the limit, they are hard to come by. Plainfields' licenses rarely come up for sale.  Not long ago, a bar owner purchased one to prevent a competitor from taking away his clientele. He just pocketed the license.

There are bills in the New Jersey legislature to allow new licenses in redevelopment areas but the bar and restaurant lobby opposes measures to create new licenses.  They are protecting the financial interests of their constituents who have invested significant dollars for their licenses. 

I urge our new ABC Commission to research this problem and draft a resolution for the Council so we can advocate in Trenton for what Plainfield needs.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Way You Can Beautify Plainfield

Most residents know that city trucks come through our neighborhoods each month to take away leaves, branches and lawn cuttings.  What many don't know is that there is a state law requiring yard waste to be put on the street within 24 hours of the scheduled pick up dates.  Not earlier.

                               This should go on the street the day before pick-up

There are two good reasons for this law.  The first is to help improve the appearance of our streets. Be respectful of your neighbors.  We all have a stake in keeping our streets and properties looking good.  And if you have a yard maintenance service, make sure your contractor complies with the law.

The second reason is an environmental one.  Sediment and yard waste on the streets can wash into our storm drains.  This can cause clogging and back ups.  Eventually sediment silts up streams and rivers.  This is especially true in high population areas like Plainfield and a lot of New Jersey.

                     This is what happens when yard waste gets put out too soon

 So your adherence to the law is good for you, your neighbors and the environment.

Check the city's website or see below for the summer pick-up schedule and zone map.  It also is mailed to each household.