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May 27, 2014

Council Minutes

Mayor Barrella called the special meeting, to consider two ABC License renewals on which objections had been received, to order at 7:00 PM. Present were Council Members Reid, Cortes, Vogel, Gordon and Toohey. Councilman Mayer was absent due to work commitment. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Hearing on Dedreux, Inc. ABC license renewal was opened.

Mayor Barrella: out of caution, recused himself from this part of the meeting as his friend, Mr. Donohue, works for the licensee and Council President Reid acted in his stead.
Borough Attorney Riordan advised Council on how to proceed.
Linda Dedreux, Broadway Bar & Grill – Point Pleasant Beach (PPB), was sworn in by Borough Attorney Riordan and testified: this was the 4th complaint from Mr. Ramirez – 3 were done through the Borough courthouse – Mr. Ramirez didn't show up in court, so Judge Liguori dismissed them – was contacted by the Municipal Clerk regarding hearing due to noise complaint from Mr. Ramirez – spoke to Mr. Ramirez prior to that notification and told him that the Broadway had never received a noise complaint, prior to his, in 25 years, especially not in the months of October through December – lost 8 months due to ‘Sandy’ – had not changed anything in the running of the business – Mr. Ramirez claimed the problem only occurred when the door is open and the sound travelled – informed him that we were looking into a glass or canvas canopy as a second entrance and are in the process of getting estimates.
Council Reid: asked what time the complaints were filed (Linda Dedreux: went with son to his condo and there was light noise when door opened – at the time of the last complaint, no one was there) commendable that they're trying to remedy the situation.
Councilman Toohey: asked the Chief if any other citizens had lodged complaints.
Chief O’Hara, was sworn in by Borough Attorney Riordan and testified: didn't have a list of complainants – sometimes complaints are anonymous – 11 noise complaints received, in the past year, from November 1st to present – earliest was at 8:55 PM – most are falling between 11 PM and midnight – warnings were issued on eight of the calls, with no callbacks – summons was issued on November 3rd at 12:34 AM.
Councilman Gordon: asked how these numbers compare to other bars (Chief O'Hara: didn't research the other bars – lot of calls in a very short range of time and, if coming from one location, someone is unhappy and trying to make a point – all-in-all, the activities are minimal especially for a bar with live entertainment – 6 complaints in November, 1 in January, 1 in February, 2 in March and 1 in May – January 28th complaint was filed at 8:55 PM).
Linda Dedreux: our music doesn't start until 9:30 PM (disposition from Police patrols was that January 28th complaint was unfounded).
Councilman Vogel: asked if anything has changed in operation (Linda Dedreux: changed stage location).
Jose Ramirez, PPB, was sworn in by Borough Attorney Riordan and testified: five units at his condo complex – full time resident who was trying to find a solution and move forward – represented the other residents, two of which are also full time residents – during course of year, noise was pretty loud, travelled to condo complex and woke us up between midnight and 1PM – approached the owner, who said that the location of the band had been moved – made no complaints, prior to this year, as the band was not near the front door, but on the other side of the room – now sound travels outside when the door opens – had a civil conversation about how it could be rectified, including double entry-way – haven't heard anything since.
Councilman Reid: conversation between parties went well – owner looking to remedy the situation; Councilman Toohey: confirmed that condos were located at the old 'Skokos' site on the other side of Broadway.
Mr. Ramirez: made no complaints before this year – didn't get any information from court and was unaware of same, as did not lodge any civil complaints.
Councilman Gordon: asked how many times Mr. Ramirez called (several times and neighbors also called – didn't have an issue prior to 'Sandy' – only since location of band was moved – looking for a solution).
Councilman Reid: applicant has testified that she said she is working on a solution – opened the hearing to the public.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION WAS OPENED AT 7:18 PM.

Councilman Gordon: asked if it was their intention to build a sound barrier entranceway and its ball park completion date (waiting on estimates – hoping to get it done soon); Councilman Vogel: asked if anything could be done with acoustics or angling the speakers a different way (tried that – invited Council to come and listen).
No members of the public wished to be heard.
Motion by Councilman Vogel to close public participation was seconded by Councilman Cortes and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Reid, Cortes, Vogel, Gordon, Toohey....YEA

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION WAS CLOSED AT 7:20 PM.

Councilman Gordon: asked if any contingencies can be added to renewal and Attorney Riordan advised regarding procedures; Councilman Toohey: establishment has been there 25 years and the owner is willing to proceed in good faith.
Motion by Councilman Toohey, to approve renewal of Dedreux Inc. ABC license, was seconded by Councilman Cortes and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Reid, Cortes, Vogel, Gordon, Toohey....YEA

Mayor Barrella returned to the dais and the meeting in progress at 7:23 PM.

Hearing on Martell's Tiki Bar, Inc., T/A Martell's Tiki Bar and Jake's Crab House, ABC license renewal was opened.

Ron Gasiorowski, Attorney for Martell's Tiki Bar, Inc.: two entities involved, the holder of the License, Martell's Tiki Bar, Inc., and the property owner, Cameryn and Dalton LLC – the complaint goes more to the issue of zoning than to an ABC license issue, but was prepared to answer questions and address the complaint filed by Mr. Cavagnaro.
Mayor Barrella: received Mr. Gasiorowski’s letter today, which also referred to the ABC matter – suggested, at last Council meeting, that this hearing be held until the ABC issued their report and additional information was available to the Governing Body – Council decided to move forward today – your letter also refers to the ABC matter – asked if he wanted to hold this matter (No) – asked if he wanted the Governing Body to approve the renewal while there is a pending ABC investigation of the August incident
Attorney Gasiorowski: appearing for renewal of ABC license – understood that an incident at the establishment is under consideration by the ABC – if ABC takes action, that will take precedence over any action the Council takes this evening.
Mayor Barrella: disagreed, as the Governing Body is the local ABC and it’s their decision whether to renew or not – the ABC can impose sanctions, as well – it is almost a concurrent jurisdiction – not sure that ABC's decision would be binding on this Council – it's additional information, additional evidence – trying to understand the need to proceed without their report.
Councilman Gordon: asked when the current license expires (6/30/14) – heard that report will be out the first week of June [Attorney Gasiorowski: asked where that information came from ; Mayor Barrella: conveyed, in response to a letter sent to the ABC, by Christopher Stark, Regional Director of Local Government Services (LGS) in the Governor's Office, who indicated that PPB would get a summary report but would not have access to the underlying evidence – found that lack of transparence deeply troubling] - asked Councilman Reid if the ABC decision would influence his opinion (Councilman Reid: matter before Council today – should act on it today – asked about the letter that the Mayor sent to the ABC).
Mayor Barrella: sent a letter to Director Halfacre and received a verbal response from the Governor's Regional Director of LGS who advised that the ABC would be wrapping up the matter in early June – can't force Director Halfacre to respond to that letter; Chief O'Hara has contacted the Old Bridge Police Department (PD) and they have not responded.
Councilman Gordon: asked other Council Members if ABC decision would sway theirs (Councilman Reid: there is no additional information – will deal with it later on) asked why it was being considered now when it could have been postponed until June 10th when other information might have been available.
Mayor Barrella: asked about temporary extensions for liquor licenses if not ready by June 30th (Clerk ellsworth: ad-interim permits are available).
Councilman Vogel: if that was done, would not be able to ask questions like tonight (Clerk Ellsworth: there had to be a hearing as an objection was filed).
Attorney Gasiorowski: was going to ask that the Mayor recuse himself due to the long animus with his client – the Mayor must look at this matter fairly and impartially without allowing his personal bias to influence same – client has run his business in PPB for a significant period of time (Mayor Barrella: have no problem in judging this application in a fair and impartial manner – does not mean refraining from asking hard questions when they are warranted) hearing was convened due to complaint filed by Mr. Cavagnaro, which referred to three things – the first was the proposed fishing pier – back in 1998, Martell's made an application for an extension of their pier for a fishing pier – as a part of the condition for that approval, the DEP mandated that there be free and open access to the pier by the public – that extension was never constructed – that's really a permitting question with CAFRA, not an ABC issue - client is in compliance, however – the present pier was built in the exact footprint of the pier which was destroyed by 'Sandy' - second issue was about the tables and chairs in the front – has been our contention that the property in question belongs to Martell's – an issue arose with regard to it, appeared before Council and the table and chars were permitted by resolution – again, this is not an ABC matter – the area is outside of the licensed premises, with no alcohol being served or consumed there – last issue had to do with the accident that took place last summer – unquestioned that it was a tragic accident that resulted in the loss of life – no one yet knows the cause of that accident – no one knows whether or not the person in question consumed alcohol at Martell's to an extent which would have created a violation of the regulations of the ABC and also as interpreted by this Council – spoke, today, with an ABC attorney and the investigation is not complete – there is no set date that it will be complete or when a report will be issued – here for a very simple license renewal – only question is that the use was expanded into the 'Crab House' – provided history on how it came about as ruled by a prior ABC Director – if something should happen in the future, that's when it should be addressed.
Mayor Barrella: asked if it was his client's position that Ashley Chieco was not drinking from 11AM to 5 PM (Attorney Gasiorowski: refused to respond – client has not violated the mandates or rules and regulations of the ABC) – asked if his client was willing to stipulate that at the time of her death, Ashley Chieco's blood alcohol level was .189 (Attorney Gasiorowski: claimed that these questions were highly improper and far beyond the scope and demonstrative of the Mayor's animus) stretch to claim that establishing the facts surrounding the death of a 26-year-old is bias and animus (Attorney Gasiorowski: asked the Mayor if he knew what the facts were) asked the questions and heard from you that your client has no intention of answering anything – that's your clients right – this Governing Body should be looking at those refusals and evaluating that – this is not a criminal matter – there is no Fifth Amendment protection here – asked if parking lot, that Miss Chieco took the car from, was operated by a company owned by the same people or family members as those that own Martell's Tiki Bar (Attorney Gasiorowski: refused to answer – matter is in litigation – don't represent those involved in the civil litigation – don't have knowledge of these things – read the complaints but his office is not handling the two civil litigations – who owns the parking lot should have no relevance to the ABC license renewal) – have a 26-year-old who started drinking at 11 AM, drank until 5 PM, was in a condition (Attorney Gasiorowski: objected that the Mayor should be sworn in) – asked that the Borough Attorney tell Attorney Gasiorowski to stop interrupting.
Attorney Riordan: advised that both step back and take a deep breath – best if questions were confined to things that were on the record – seems that reliance is being made to things that are not on the record or before Council – have no proof of those things.
Mayor Barrella: problem with confining questions to what’s in the record – ABC refusing to turn documents over – the Old Bridge PD refused to hand documents over – this Council wants to make a decision with no facts in the record – trying to understand why this Council is willing to give Martell’s a free pass when someone died.
Attorney Riordan: suggested that these questions should be posed at a disciplinary hearing not a renewal hearing (Mayor Barrella: asked who would request a disciplinary hearing) – the municipality could and should after they get the ABC report.
Mayor Barrella: public has the right to object at renewal – public doesn’t have the right to demand a disciplinary hearing – if the Council was to renew the license tonight, the discretion as to whether to have a disciplinary hearing rests solely with the Governing Body by majority vote (Yes) – believe that there will never be a hearing into this matter if the Council acts to renew and the then the public will not have an opportunity to object (Attorney Riordan: assuming the ABC issues their ruling after renewal and no disciplinary hearing was called for by the Council, obviously, at the next renewal, Council would have a report in front of it) – this girl's life is not even worth a temporary extension.
Attorney Gasiorowski: shameful that the Mayor is willing to bring the death of this young woman into this hearing with absolutely no basis as to the causality of her death (Mayor Barrella: she drank from 11 to 5, the accident occurred at 6 and her blood alcohol level was .189 – asked how you do this if you have kids – appealed to him as a parent) called the Mayor’s actions shameful (Mayor Barrella: if this Governing Body moves forward tonight, it is a stain on PPB that will not shortly be removed – a disgraceful episode and chapter in PPB if they rush to permit the renewal without knowing the facts).
Councilman Cortes: tragic incident – have three daughters but am open minded – asked if Mayor’s facts were coming from NJ.com (Mayor Barrella: facts were attributed to the Old Bridge PD – intend to get to the bottom of why the Old Bridge PD has not provided the information in response to the Chief’s inquiry) – quoting things from the paper or internet (yes) – at last Council meeting Mayor said ‘You can’t believe everything you read in the paper’ – read that article too –it also said that they didn’t find any criminal investigation to move forward against Martell’s (Mayor Barrella: never indicated that anyone connected with Martell’s should be doing jail time or that criminal charges should be brought – got a timeline from the Old Bridge PD through the “Newark Star Ledger,” the only organization that has been reporting on it – asked what the downside to waiting is if, in fact, what he’s laying out is not what happened – asked, if right, “Do you want to be a Council Member who cast a vote to renew the license without knowing?” – would be taking the exact same position if this were any other establishment – shouldn't be rushing to judgment – should allow for the opportunity for the facts to come out – should be curious as to what’s in the Old Bridge PD report and to see what’s on that videotape – may see a woman completely in charge of her faculties and question how her blood alcohol level could have been .189 – may see a woman, obviously drunk, continuing to be served – don’t know and Council wants to make a decision without knowing).
Attorney Gasiorowski: objected to this being hearsay.
Councilman Reid: asked if there were more questions - aske that the complainant come forward.
Dave Cavagnaro, PPB, was sworn in by Attorney Riordan and testified: clarified he did not ask that their renewal application be denied but that his concerns be considered – first noticed tables and fencing while serving on Council – as chairman of Building and Grounds Committee, asked Zoning officer about it, who checked and it was not on their site plan – notified Council of his concern and that Zoning Officer was going to send a letter, which was sent in October and they removed them – they were told that they had the option of sending a letter requesting same and stated, if request came in, would support the tables but not the fencing (Councilman Gordon: fencing and signs were not there last night) – they were notified and had multiple options – the option they chose in the New Year was to put the tables and fence back again - rental CO renewal licenses can be held up for numerous reasons, so Council should consider any violations – if there is a deed restriction on property and someone applies for a summer CO, it would be denied – the deed restriction specifies the pier, not just the new section of the pier - no one could understand why anybody would take out a deed restriction before the work was even started – however, once obtained, it is a legal document – they have the option to go back and have it removed but until they do, it is a legal document which states that the pier has to be open to the public – these are things that should be considered during license renewal.
Councilman Reid: Councilman Gordon brought up a good point - spoke with Scott Bassinder and he has taken the fence down for now.
Mayor Barrella: opened the hearing to the public.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION WAS OPENED AT 8:01 PM.

George Loder, PPB: very challenging situation – supported license renewal, as it’s a summer business and those that work there have a short period of time to make a living – if the ABC finds them in violation, will sanction them according to New Jersey Statute – Martell's should have a chance to have their day in court.
John Dixon, PPB: echoed Mr. Loder's sentiments – Martell’s has been there since the early 80s – has had several million people walk through their place for dinner and/or cocktails – don’t know the whole story on this incident - first time there's been an incident like this after accommodating all those people – doesn’t make sense to deny them – should wait to see what happens with the ABC and deal with it then.
Motion by Councilman Reid, to close public participation, was seconded by Councilman Vogel and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Reid, Cortes, Vogel, Gordon, Toohey....YEA

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION WAS CLOSED AT 8:04 PM.

Councilman Vogel: asked if there were any special promotions being run the day in question or any time during the season that promote binge drinking - asked if Martell’s kept training records in compliance with State statutes on server education.
Scott Bassinder, Martell’s Tike Bar, Inc., was sworn in by Attorney Riordan and testified: no to binge drinking, no ‘Beat the Clock’ or anything like that (Attorney Gasiorowski: reviewed the manuals and training materials and rendered opinion to his client that they are in compliance with the ABC regulations).
Attorney Riordan: asked Mr. Bassinder if, to the best of his knowledge, e was in compliance (yes) and if he was relying on his Attorney’s opinion (yes).
Councilman Toohey: asked what the process was that Council would follow to hold a disciplinary hearing, should Council receive terrible information from the ABC (Attorney Riordan: would vote to hold a disciplinary hearing).
Dave Cavagnaro: asked if Mr. Bassinder offered not to put the fences there for now (yes) - thanked Mr. Bassinder for doing so.
Mayor Barrella: asked Mr. Bassinder about ‘strippers and clippers’ promotion at Martell’s (had no knowledge – asked if the Mayor had something that had strippers and clippers on it) -asked if he was denying that there was a Monday promotion geared to people in the haircutting and beauty trade (yes and no; Attorney Gasiorowski: objected to the question – been no allegation of operating a promotion that speaks to the terms of ‘strippers and clippers’ – asked if there was any allegation that on the day in question there was some type of promotion that encouraged excessive drinking) – past practice – asked the Chief about same, if he or Captain Dikun could detail same and its effect - ultimately Martell's cancelled that promotion.
Chief O'Hara: was never the official title for that promotion – was referred to by people within the PD and the community for the type of crowd that was drawn there on Mondays - Monday promotion wherein groups of people in certain industries went to that establishment - have no knowledge of drink specials or any contests that enticed people to drink more in a quicker time - on Monday afternoons, there was entertainment and people from haircutting and restaurant industries that were hanging out – PD became very busy and had to add additional personnel as normally Mondays are a quiet day and this promotion was very popular and brought a lot of people into the establishment – had to add additional special officers to the Boardwalk area because of the large influx of people – got to the point where the PD has discussions with management about the increase in police activity and the live entertainment stopped – believe it was a particular DJ from up north that was very popular and had a big following – they stopped bringing that DJ in and the incidents stopped.
Mayor Barrella: not here to argue that Martell's be denied their ABC license - just think Council should wait for more information – would not be surprised if the ABC were to revoke the license or if Council were to deny renewal – in an analogous situation three days before this incident, the ABC revoked a license – was not exactly the same, but there was no indication there of past history – if revocation occurred or if Council were to deny renewal, that would be perfectly appropriate – there are other options and other sanctions, such as suspension and curtailed hours – to reach a decision and renew this license before hearing from the ABC is inexcusable and disgraceful – Council is going to make a decision before it even hears what the ABC summary review of the evidence is – Council should be backing release of records - owe it to the families of Ashley Chieco and Dana Corrar.
Councilman Toohey: all these concerns are currently being vetted by the ABC and in a civil court of law – not convinced that that process is going to conclude before the expiration of the current license (Mayor Barrella: can extend the license – asked if he was convinced that if it’s approved tonight that the ABC would ever release a report) - didn’t want to act on what ifs (Mayor Barrella: if Council approves tonight will be doing so on the flimsiest of evidence).
Councilman Gordon: don't know the whole story - how can Council make an informed decision - not looking to harm a business in town but, also, owe the public and citizens of this town a proper decision – not making a proper decision without the information - puzzled by the rush.
Councilman Vogel: asked is there a chance for a rebuttal after the ABC report comes out (Attorney Riordan: ABC is always willing to have a discussion with the local authority - should the ABC decision be adverse to applicant, applicant might ask that it be reviewed by the Director and/or a court of law at the appellate division) - so the report could not be the end all be all (Attorney Riordan: will be relying on ABC summary report unless Council asks its own PD to investigate - prior administration chose to leave it in the hands of the ABC instead of assigning it to the PPB PD; Mayor Barrella: happened in Old Bridge and one of their detectives investigated; Attorney Riordan: could have asked PPB PD to investigate on behalf of the municipality with respect to the license – Council has concurrent jurisdiction; Mayor Barrella: Old Bridge turned everything over to the ABC, who is going to sit on it – have indicated that they are not going to release it – if the ABC decides never to act, it’s done – the incident goes unresolved – haven’t received the promised formal notification as to when the matter would be concluded – have serious questions as to whether the ABC is telling Chris Stark the truth and whether this ABC is ever going to act on a matter like this.
Councilman Toohey: asked if the ABC was legally bound to act on this matter (Attorney Riordan: both the ABC and the municipality have concurrent jurisdiction - in a situation like this the ABC is almost always going to investigate, no matter what the municipality does, based on the seriousness of the allegations – once the ABC decides to investigate, ordinarily, a municipality does not mirror their investigation – it’s a waste of time, energy and money – the ABC is ordinarily better equipped to do that investigation) – asked if statutorily can the ABC sit on this and never act - is that allowed (Attorney Riordan: have never seen such a case – ABC is an administrative agency - imagine that the families of those involved could bring a mandamus action to compel the ABC to rule one way or another – have never seen the ABC do that, however).
Motion by Councilman Gordon to table the vote until June 10th died for the lack of a second.
Motion by Councilman Reid to approve the Martell’s Tiki Bar, Inc., ABC license renewal, was seconded by Councilman Cortes and carried by roll call vote:
VOTE: Council Members Reid, Cortes*, Vogel, Toohey***….YEA
Councilman Gordon**….Abstain
*Councilman Cortes: asked the Borough Attorney if Council could move and vote to have a disciplinary hearing at a regular Council meeting, should the ABC comes out with negative findings against the establishment (Yes).
**Councilman Gordon: don’t have enough information.
***Councilman Toohey: in the event that the ABC does come forward with sanctions or negative findings, will make the motion to hold a disciplinary hearing.

Motion by Councilman Vogel to adjourn was seconded by Councilman Reid and carried by consent of Council.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:32 PM.



ATTEST: ___________________________________________
Maryann Ellsworth, Municipal Clerk


Published June19, 2014 | Council Minutes | 1898


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