City officials held off on adding portions of Union and 12th Avenues to the hot spot business curfew ordinance citing the court battle between the municipality and bar owners over the midnight closing of businesses in 15 designated crime zones.
Council members had given preliminary approval to add Union Avenue between Redwood and Kearney Streets and 12th Avenue from East 18th Street to East 24th Street to the business curfew ordinance using objective data developed by police based on quality of life complaints in the areas.
Several speakers delivered speeches on the expansion on Tuesday evening. Among them a small group of business owners on Union Avenue.
“If the curfew is set on us my family will be hurt greatly,” said Victor Gomez, who owns a restaurant on the stretch of Union Avenue that was to be added to the hot spot zones.
Gomez questioned the data that was used to reckon his street was troublesome enough to be considered for business curfew.
“We don’t have a preconceived notion where we shut down businesses,” said police director Jerry Speziale. He said the city uses empirical crime data to designate a location.
Gomez said he has attempted to obtain the data police used to recommend his block be added to the business curfew. He was unsuccessful.
Speziale told Gomez to file an Open Public Records Request.
Council members were divided on approving the ordinance despite 80-percent drop in other business curfew zones in the city.
“It has worked,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman. “We’ve seen positive results.”
Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, who backed the original business curfew, opposed the measure. He said he did not think it wise for a city to shut down late night businesses. He said a metropolis like Paterson ought to encourage outsiders to come into the city to patronize local businesses not put up barriers to deter them.
“We’re not closing their businesses. We’re just reducing their hours,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, who serves as the chairman of the public safety committee.
Law director Domenick Stampone told council members to focus on the two new locations and avoid discussing the other areas over which the city is in court with bar owners. Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, suggested the city postpone any expansion until the legal question is cleared so as to protect the city against any liabilities.
Stampone said the city is on “solid legal footing.”
“They are suffering,” said Cotton, who pleaded with council members, speaking about 12th Avenue, which has been the site of many shootings in the past few months.
The council will revisit the ordinance on March 23rd, 2016.