Point Pleasant Beach orders bars to shut down at midnight

May 16, 2012 4:54:31 AM PDT
Bars in Point Pleasant Beach now find themselves in a worse position than they had feared: They will have to close at midnight starting in July under an ordinance approved by the borough council Tuesday night.

But a separate measure that would permit the bars to continue to stay open until 2 a.m. if they pay an extra fee aimed at funding additional police patrols was postponed until June 12.

So as it stands now, the bars have to shut down at midnight effective July 1, yet they have no mechanism to buy themselves more time to stay open.

The bars currently are allowed to close at 2 a.m.

Responding to complaints from residents about rowdy behavior from bar patrons heading back to their cars in the wee hours of the morning, the council proposed two ordinances: one closing the bars at midnight, the other allowing them to buy their way out of early closings by paying additional fees based on their occupancy.

The council passed the midnight closing ordinance Tuesday night, but made minor changes to a second ordinance that would have allowed the bars to pay an addition fee to allow them to continue to stay open till 2 a.m. Those changes pushed back the final votes on that ordinance until June 12.

A parade of residents told the council horror stories of hearing and seeing drunken fights, public urination - and even defecation as the bars let out. Resident Aleta Weinstein said a police officer responded to her home after someone left a pile of human feces on her front porch.

Other boardwalk workers said they fear for their jobs if the early closures become a reality.

Several council members held out the possibility of repealing the ordinance if the town can come to a financial agreement with the boardwalk bars to help pay for additional police patrols. The bars had offered $800,000 over five years for that purpose.

But a lawsuit they filed to block parking restrictions in residential neighborhoods near the boardwalk bars did not sit well with the council. The law prohibits non-resident parking on certain streets between midnight and 6 a.m.

Marilou Halvorsen, a spokeswoman for Jenkinson's Boardwalk, said the company has not decided whether it will sue to try to overturn the midnight bar closing ordinance.

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