Council passes ordinance forcing hotspot businesses to close at midnight | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Council passes ordinance forcing hotspot businesses to close at midnight

By Jayed Rahman
Published: August 20, 2014


The city council on Tuesday evening adopted an ordinance regulating the hours of operations for establishments in 15 designated hotspot locations throughout the city. Businesses falling within the boundaries of the hotspots must be closed between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The adopted ordinance does not regulate hours of operation for liquor stores. Business administrator Nellie Pou suggested the council table the ordinance and opt to move forward with another ordinance that forces liquor stores to close at midnight as well. The council had before it two slightly different ordinances: one that regulates businesses other than liquor stores and another that includes the regulation of liquor stores and an exemption of drive-thru restaurants.

“What we don’t want to do is send this one to first reading,” said council president Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward. Pou admitted by switching to the more compact ordinance, the city would have to go through another workshop meeting and then adopt the ordinance in a September regular meeting. The business administrator wanted to reduce confusion by passing a single ordinance that regulates general businesses and liquor stores, but a majority of the council members did not heed Pou’s suggestion.

Council members voted to approve the ordinance after a lengthy public hearing. “It may be a band aid, but it’s the first step towards us getting control over our city,” said Kenneth Clayton, pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church.

Other residents praised the business curfew many wishing to expand it to cover not just hotspots, but the entire city. City activist David Gilmore expressed his support for the ordinance, but said the ordinance is incomplete.

Gilmore said he looked at the data the city used to designate the hotspots, but he did not see a clear process or threshold that’s established to remove a location after it has cooled down. “There’s nothing stated in the report how they determine when those streets will be changed, removed, or added,” said Gilmore. When does a location come off? What’s the removal process? asked Gilmore.

The activist said the city designated the 15 hotspots using old data from 2013. The city’s police department came up with data to designate the following neighborhoods as hotspots:

The council approved the ordinance that regulates the hotspot businesses, but does not include liquor stores. The council also gave its initial approval to a duplicate ordinance that also includes the regulation of liquor stores, but excludes drive-thru establishments.

“The police consider it a reasonable exclusion to allow restaurants on a drive-thru basis only as long as their parking lot is closed off,” said city attorney Ben-David Seligman. The ordinance allows drive-thru windows to remain open.

Businesses found in violation of the ordinance will face fines up to $2,000, according to the ordinance.

“This is one of the most important ordinance you’ll ever vote on,” said former mayor Thomas Rooney. “If done properly it could be the true turning point for the City of Paterson.”

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