We already know that Community Board 3's SLA Licensing hearing on Monday got very intense, but this battle was not just between applicants and the board. According to the Lo Down, the former chair of CB 3 and current member David McWater had several heated exchanges with his fellow board and committee members over several of the applicants, specifically over the ability of business owners to sell or transfer their licenses for business reasons. McWater is also the owner of several bars in the neighborhood, which oftentimes means he is the sole pro-business vote on the board. This past week, he stood against the board on several applications, pitting himself against the majority of his fellow members.
The Board reacted negatively to a proposal from a mother and son to transfer the liquor license from the former Butterfly space on Avenue B to their new venue, a catering company, restaurant, and lounge, that would include a shuttered deli next to the closed bar. According to the LD, this license transfer denial set McWater off. He lashed out at his fellow members, saying:
When this person built this business and invested in this business, they did so with the understanding that they could sell it? I understand what saturation means and I understand it’s a bad thing, and I’ll vote against new bars in these crowded areas, but what people are suggesting now is that you take away the equity of the person who started that business had? It would be the same thing is if I went to your place of work and said you know what I don’t think you should have a retirement fund anymore.It doesn't seem like that is exactly the same, but McWater did make his point. And this clearly demonstrates the problems that operators, the SLA, and the Boards face; that even when the rules are clear they still aren't 100% transparent. A license holder should be able to transfer that license because it has value, just like a new applicant should be quickly approved for a license in a space with the proper zoning and outside a 500' zone. Unfortunately, it's never that simple. It seems there wasn't as much good will created at the Nightlife Town Hall as was needed.
· McWater Rails Against CB3 Bar Decisions [Lo Down]
· First Word: CB 3 Greenlights Freemans [~ENY~]
· The Drying of NYC [~ENY~]