By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – City commissioners want to “put it out there.” That is, sell the last of three plenary retail consumption liquor licenses the city is entitled to auction off based on its year-round population.
When the sitting commissioners were campaigning for office in 2015, the number one request from constituents was to have liquor served in restaurants. Residents approved the measure in a referendum held on Nov. 2, 2016. According to the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the city was entitled to have three licenses.
The first award went to the owners of Santucci’s Square Pizza, which opened at the former Arrow Hardware site last summer, and the second went to the owners of the Ventnor Square Theater, which plans to open in a few months. The first bid was awarded on May 24, 2018 for $77,100, $2,100 more than the minimum bid amount, and the second was awarded on Nov. 2, 2018 for $91,100, $14,000 more than the minimum bid amount.
Commissioners discussed going out to bid for the third license at their meeting Thursday, Jan. 28, and agreed that “coming out of COVID” would be a great time to do it. It will take about a year to bid, investigate the winning bidder and award the license, they said.
“We are looking to be futuristic,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said. “Not only does it take time for the process of licensing to be bid on, vetted and stepped through, but also to have a restaurant up and running.”
Commissioner Lance Landgraf, who suggested selling the third license, said the city is looking for “some out of the box thinking” for the next award.
The licenses can only be awarded to full-service restaurants.
Landgraf said several business owners have expressed interest in purchasing the license.
The minimum bid for the next sale will be over $100,000, possibly as much as $115,000, Landgraf said.
“It’s our last one, so that’s how we can justify pushing it up,” he said.
“It would keep the momentum going,” Kriebel said. “We just have to go over the details and make sure we are getting the right amount for the taxpayers.”
In other business, the board discussed limiting heavy construction on Saturdays during the summer. The city’s construction code could be amended to limit noise on the weekends. Construction is currently not permitted on Sundays.
“While we don’t want to stop construction, but if you’re going to have something heavy running, let’s to that on a weekday in the summer and not on the weekend,” Landgraf said.
The amendment will be introduced at an upcoming meeting.
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