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N.J. bills could threaten alcohol sales

Two new pieces of legislation threaten to impact alcoholic beverage sales at food retail in New Jersey.

One would shrink the pool of potentially available packaged goods licenses for food retailers interested in expanding into that area, and the other would place new restrictions on retailers who sell alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption, according to Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council.


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The latter, S-760, would require food retailers to display and sell alcoholic beverages on a separate premise that is situated directly adjacent to the food store, with a sliding or swinging door no greater than eight feet in width and a separate cash register.

New Jersey liquor wholesalers and the packaged goods lobby are using these proposals as a means to block current approval of licenses, according to Doherty.

“They are using the legislative proposals, which have yet to have any public hearing or official endorsement, to make false claims to municipal officials that the bills have full support in Trenton, are on the verge of passage and will be implemented retroactively as a means to prevent local ordinance approval and protect their monopoly on liquor sales," said Doherty. "It is an unscrupulous action and a desperate attempt to interfere with home rule and manipulate the good government process.”

Paul Santelle, president of the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance responded to the accusation by saying "I will only state that the NJLSA became aware after the fact of one letter sent by our counsel to Hanover Township officials in response to public notice to transfer a liquor license to a food council member late last summer. The attorney was questioned over the phone by township officials wherein he clarified the representation of support from the Governor’s Office and Senate President to be that 'we the NJLSA, had met with the Governor’s office as well as the Senate President regarding this proposed legislation, which they were not opposed to us pursuing and would give full consideration to supporting at the appropriate time in the future.'"



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