It's liquor license renewal time and at Tuesday's City Council meeting the governing body will consider renewals for three social clubs, eight bars or restaurants and seven liquor stores, along with the proposed non-renewal of one store for a second time.
Fourteen other liquor license holders have not yet met all the state and local requirements for renewal.
The troubled Clinton Deli & Grocery stayed open in the 2012-2013 term only after owner Vadrajan Naicken promised to install cameras on the premises to help prevent violations, but he was reluctant to hire security guards as city officials asked. Police reported 254 calls to the premises in the 2011-12 term for incidents including sale of alcohol to minors, drug possession, fights, assaults weapons offenses and sale of loose cigarettes. The most disturbing report to city officials and police was that drugs were found on several occasions “beneath the ice cream freezer” within the store, where ice cream and candy were sold to children.
Last year, a hearing revealed new violations, but when it came to a vote, a council majority was reluctant to deny Naicken's renewal. At the Aug. 19 meeting, Councilwoman Tracey Brown initially sided with Vera Greaves, William Reid and Council President Bridget Rivers in not adding the matter to the agenda. But after Councilman Adrian Mapp and Councilwoman Rebecca Williams recalled police findings of underage alcohol and drug sales at the store and argued for denial, Brown, who had not attended the hearing where police testified, joined them and Cory Storch for a consensus to add the item. After several residents spoke against the renewal, the council voted unanimously to deny it.
Plaintalker was told months later that Naicken was allowed to stay in business while he appealed the denial.
The deadline for liquor license renewals is June 30 for the 2014-2015 term. But the process tends to drag on as stragglers pay their state sales tax and local renewal fees or fail reviews by the Police, Fire or Inspections divisions. In Plainfield, the City Council is the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and rules on approvals and denials of licenses. Other municipalities have commissions, and in April it was proposed that Plainfield change to having a three-member ABC commission. The idea was rejected by Rivers, who as council president decides what goes on the agenda.
Tuesday's agenda-fixing session is 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Court. The regular meeting will be held at 8 p.m. June 16 in Municipal Court.