500 Foot Rule

THE ABC’S OF NEW YORK’S ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LAW:
THE 500 FOOT RULE

Except on a showing of how the licensing of the premises is in the “public interest,” the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law prohibits the State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) approval of certain retail liquor license applications where the proposed premise is within a 500 Foot radius of three or more existing liquor licensed establishments. As an applicant, it is vital to determine whether the type of license you are seeking falls subject to the 500 Foot Rule.

In the past, the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law was interpreted to not allow the issuance of on premise retail licenses where there were three existing licenses within 500 feet of the applicant’s location. This rule was applied regardless of what type of license was already operating within 500 feet of the applicant’s establishment. The 500 Foot Rule was recently changed when a court ruled that the New York State Liquor Authority could no longer count all of the establishments within 500 feet of the applicant’s location. The 500 Foot Rule is now applied as follows:

  • On-premises licenses pursuant to Section 64: When applying for a license under Section 64 to operate a restaurant, hotel or catering establishment, the rule will apply if your location is within 500 feet of three or more other establishments that are also licensed under Section 64.

  • “Special” on-premises licenses pursuant to Section 64(a): When applying for a license under Section 64-a to operate a bar, tavern, nightclub or adult entertainment facility, the rule will apply if your location is within 500 feet of three or more other establishments licensed under Section 64-a.

  • Restaurant-Brewer licenses pursuant to Section 64(c): When applying for a license under Section 64-c to operate a brew pub, the rule will apply if your location is within 500 feet of three or more establishments licensed under Section 64, 64-a, or 64-c.

  • Cabaret licenses pursuant to Section 64(d): When applying for a license under Section 64-d to operate a cabaret, the rule will apply if your location is within 500 feet of three or more establishments licensed under Section 64 or 64-c.

These statutes provide for full, on-premises licenses, meaning the establishments are authorized to sell liquor, wine, and beer.

THE 500 FOOT RULE HEARING

The 500 Foot Rule does not blankly prohibit the issuance of full, on premises licenses to establishments that fall within the Rule. Applicants affected by the 500 Foot rule will be invited to appear at a 500 Foot Rule Hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, applicants have the opportunity to overcome the restriction by demonstrating that the issuance of the liquor license is “in the public interest.”

A representative of the New York State Liquor Authority also attends the 500 Foot Rule hearing. This public hearing provides a forum for the SLA to observe the applicant’s public interest argument, the Community Board’s position on the issuance of the new license, and any other interested party’s opinion. The New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law set forth the following factors which eh SLA may consider when determining whether the applicant has establish that the granting of the application is in the “public interest:”

  • the number, classes and character of licenses in proximity to the location and in the particular municipality or subdivision thereof;
  • evidence that all necessary licenses and permits have been obtained from the state and all other governing bodies;
  • effect of the grant of the license on vehicular traffic and parking in proximity to the location;
  • the existing noise level at the location and any increase in noise level that would be generated by the proposed premises;
  • the history of liquor violations and reported criminal activity at the proposed premises; and
  • any other factors specified by law or regulation that are relevant to determine the public convenience and advantage and public interest of the community.

In preparing for the 500 Foot Hearing, applicants are strongly urged to consult with experienced liquor licensing counsel. A careful examination of the neighborhood in which the premises located often reveals arguments that will persuade the SLA that a showing of “public interest” has been made. The attorneys at the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC have years of experience preparing for and prevailing in 500 Foot Rule Hearings and are ready to represent you or your company at your 500 Foot Hearing.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE 500 FOOT RULE

Be aware that several clear exceptions to the 500 Foot Rule exist. The 500 Foot rule does not apply to:

  • Establishments in operation since November 1, 1993.
  • Applications for renewals or for corporate changes to existing licenses;
  • Establishments located in cities, towns, or villages with a population of less than 20,000.

To schedule an initial consultation regarding your liquor license application, please contact us through our Online Contact Form, by email: contact@rudnerpaleudis.com, or by phone: (212) 835-6768 in New York City, (215) 331-6487 in Philadelphia, or (609) 480-3080 in Princeton, New Jersey.