Cuomo Vetoes Legislation for Liquor License in Church (1.16.14)

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Joel Stashenko, New York Law Journal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have granted a new liquor license to a catering hall inside a historic Manhattan church. The governor noted in a Jan. 10 veto message that the Rose Group Park Avenue's use of rented space in the Third Church of Christ Scientist had caused a controversy over "what constitutes a good quality of life in the impacted neighborhood." He urged local residents to work out the dispute themselves.

Opponents of the bill A7992/S5823 argued that the Rose Group had effectively transformed the Third Church of Christ Scientist into a business, and had briefly secured a liquor license in 2006 despite state restrictions on granting a liquor license to any business operating within 200 feet of a church or other house of worship. The State Liquor Authority withdrew the licence in 2007 and Rose reapplied in 2009.

In addition to the Third Church itself, the Rose Group's catering hall is also within 200 feet of the Central Presbyterian Church. In early 2012, an Appellate Division, First Department panel unanimously ordered that the liquor license granted to the Rose Group in 2006 be rescinded because of its proximity to the Third Church and the Central Presbyterian Church (NYLJ, Jan. 20, 2012).The court said in Rose Group Park Avenue v. New York State Liquor Authority, 93 AD3d 1, that, by law, any catering activities near churches involving alcohol must be "incidental" and not "detract from the predominant character of the building as a place of worship."

The Court of Appeals denied the Rose Group's motion to appeal in March 2012. Blocked by the courts, the Rose Group spent more than $250,000 on lobbying efforts to secure its liquor license through legislation in Albany.

RESOURCE: NEW YORK LAW JOURNAL