500 Foot Law

500 Foot Law
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Overview

The 500 Foot Law prohibits the Authority from issuing an on-premises retail license for the sale and/or consumption of liquor to any premises which is within 500 feet of three establishments that are currently operating with on-premises liquor licenses. The restriction only applies in municipalities with a population of 20,000 or more. The restriction applies to:

  • on-premises liquor licenses (bars, restaurants, hotels);
  • special on-premises liquor licenses (taverns, theaters);
  • bottle club licenses (establishments that provide alcoholic beverages for free or allow BYOB, no sales permitted); and
  • restaurant-brewer licenses (brew pubs).

 

The 500 Foot Law also applies prohibits the issuance of a cabaret license if there is one existing cabaret license within 500 feet.

The 500 Foot Law excludes any licensed establishment that has been continuously licensed since the law went into effect on November 1, 1993.

A renewal of a license cannot be denied because of the 500 Foot Law. In addition, applications to approve corporate changes are not subject to the 500 Foot Law since the corporation continues to hold the license.

Measurements

The ABC Law provides that the measurement be taken in a straight line from the entrance of the proposed licensed premises. The measurement is taken using only entrances that are regularly used to give ingress to patrons into the establishment.  Emergency/fire exits, maintenance access and doors to gain access to non-pubic areas are not used in this measurement.

If the entrance is set back from the sidewalk by a walkway or doorway, the measurement is taken from the center of the line where the walkway/doorway meets the sidewalk. The existing licensed premises do not have to be on the same street.

Public Interest

If the location is subject to the 500 Foot Law, the license cannot be issued unless the Authority makes an affirmative finding that it is in the public interest to issue the license. This clearly creates a presumption that the licensed should not be issued. There is no public interest exception for applications for a cabaret license if there is an existing premises with a cabaret license within 500 feet; in such a situation the license cannot be issued.

When considering whether it would be in the public interest to approve the application, the Authority may consider the following:

  • the number, classes and character of other licensed premises not only in the area where the proposed establishment will be located, but also in the particular municipality or subdivision of the municipality;
  • whether the applicant has obtained all other necessary governmental licenses and permits;
  • the effect on vehicular traffic and parking in proximity to the location;
  • the impact on the existing noise level;
  • the history of ABC violations and reported criminal activity at the location; and
  • any other factor specified by law or regulation that would be relevant to deciding whether public convenience and advantage, as well as the public interest, would be served by approving the application.

500 Foot Hearings

When the Authority received an application, there is a general presumption that it will be approved unless there is a good reason not to approve it. However, for on-premises license applications falling under the 500 Foot Law, the presumption switches, and by law the application cannot be approved unless the Authority finds that issuing the license would be in the public interest.

The 500 Foot Law requires that the Authority consult with the municipality and conduct a hearing to gather facts to determine whether the public interest would be served by issuing the license. This is commonly referred to as the "500 Foot Hearing." In New York City, the municipality is represented by the local Community Board with jurisdiction over the area where the premises would be located.

In addition to the 500 Foot Hearing, the Authority can also hold a public meeting on notice to the applicant and the municipality. The meeting can be conducted by one or more Members of the Authority.

The hearing is conducted in the Authority's Albany, Buffalo and New York City offices. If there is not opposition to the application, and no other issues presented that requires consideration by the Members of the Authority, the application is acted on by the Authority's Licensing Bureau. In cases where the Community Board or other interested parties oppose the application, or there are other issues requiring review by the Members of the Authority, the matter is referred to the Members for determination. It's important to note that the fact that there is opposition to an application does not necessarily mean that the Authority will disapprove the application. The Authority may also disapprove application even when there is no opposition.

In situations where there is opposition to an application, applicants may come to an agreement on stipulations concerning the operation of the establishment (e.g., closing hours, live music, etc). In such cases, the applicant may incorporate those stipulations into the approved method of operation. These stipulations then become conditions of the license privilege and failure to comply subjects the licensee to disciplinary action. The Authority can impose certain conditions on the operation of the establishment without the consent of the applicant if there is good cause to do so.

 

View 500 Foot Hearings Schedule

How Does the 500 Foot Law Apply to Local Government?

For on-premises license applications falling under the 500 Foot Law, the Authority is required to consult with local government and conduct a 500 Foot Hearing to gather facts to determine whether the public interest would be served by issuing the license.

The Community Board or municipality may submit an opinion, either in favor of or against granting the license. Community members are also encouraged to attend 500 Foot Hearings to make their opinions heard regarding license applications.

In cases where the Community Board, municipality or other interested parties oppose the application, or there are other issues requiring review by the Members of the Authority, the matter is referred to the Members for determination. It's important to note that the fact that there is opposition to an application does not necessarily mean that the Authority will disapprove the application. The Authority may also disapprove application even when there is no opposition.

If there is not opposition to the application, and no other issues presented that requires consideration by the Members of the Authority, the application is acted on by the Authority's Licensing Bureau.

In situations where there is opposition to an application, applicants may come to an agreement on stipulations concerning the operation of the establishment (e.g., closing hours, live music, etc). In such cases, the applicant may incorporate those stipulations into the approved method of operation. These stipulations then become conditions of the license privilege and failure to comply subjects the licensee to disciplinary action. The Authority can impose certain conditions on the operation of the establishment without the consent of the applicant if there is good cause to do so.