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New York Liquor Licensing: The 200 and 500 Foot Rules

New York Liquor Licensing:  The 200 and 500 Foot Rules

If you have thought about obtaining a New York Liquor License, I am sure that you have heard, at the very least in passing, meanderings about the 200 and 500 foot rules and how they apply.  Here is how they work in a nutshell (a more detailed explanation can be found here).

  • The 200 foot rule applies to any retail establishment where liquor will be sold for on premises consumption; and any retail establishment where liquor or wine will be sold for consumption off the premises.
  • The 200 foot rule prohibits certain licenses from being issued if the location of the establishment is on the same street and within 200 feet of a building that is used exclusively as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. “School, church, synagogue or other place of worship” are not clearly defined terms, but the courts have adopted a test that looks to whether the building is used primarily as a school or place of worship. The building will still be considered a school or place of worship as long as any other use is only incidental to, and is not inconsistent with or detracting from the predominant character of the building as a school or place of worship.
  • The 500 foot rule applies only in cities, towns or villages with a population of 20,000 or more.
  • The 500 foot rule applies to applicants for “full” (liquor, wine and beer) liquor licenses for on-premises consumption.
  • The 500 foot rule refers to a statutory restriction on the approval of certain on-premises liquor licenses if the location is within a 500 foot radius of three or more establishments with the same class of liquor license.  Despite the restriction, the SLA may grant the license after inquiry into whether it would be in the public interest to issue the license.  As part of this inquiry, the SLA reaches out to other businesses with liquor licenses for on premises consumption in the area for their comment, the SLA encourages the applicant to obtain tangible proof of community support (letters usually), and the SLA holds a hearing on the matter.

Inquiry into these rules and how they might apply to your premises is essential once you begin thinking about obtaining a liquor license for your establishment.

This blog post is not intended to consist of legal advice and you should always consult with a lawyer before acting on anything you find on the Internet.  If you have questions or comments about this post, about the topic, or if you need legal assistance, you should feel free to give us a call or send us an email.