The three-year long legal battle between the city and liquor business owners reached a final conclusion in late September when the New Jersey Alcoholic Beverage Control accepted an administrative law judge’s decision favoring Paterson.
Municipal officials received a final order from the state last month, according to a late September announcement from law director Domenick Stampone. Ten liquor stores and bars argued the city, which is not a city of the first-class (150,000 or more people), did not have the authority to regulate hours for liquor license holders.
Administrative law judge Thomas Betancourt disagreed. Paterson “did not limit the hours of individual licenses. It limited the hours of all licenses within specified areas within the City of Paterson,” he wrote in a decision in June. “Paterson has the authority to limit the hours of sale for alcoholic beverages, either by ordinance or resolution.”
Betancourt’s opinion delivered the final blow to the liquor business owners. They had suffered defeats in three previous legal fights to overturn the business curfew since its passage in 2014. Soon after the opinion, Quilvio Montesino, who organized the opposition against the business curfew, said business owners lost the will to continue the lengthy and costly legal fight.
Montesino wants the city to create a path out of the business curfew for impacted businesses. He argues businesses that have taken steps — like hiring private security, installing better lighting, and setup security cameras — to correct the public safety problem that led to the enactment of the ordinance should be allowed to remain open after midnight.
Council members appeared receptive to the idea, but nothing has materialized. The business curfew ordinance has been wildly successful in reducing non-fatal shootings. The high crime areas in the curfew areas saw a 79-percent drop in non-fatal shootings in the first year the ordinance was in place, according to police data.