ELIZABETHTOWN — The State Liquor Authority is preparing to determine if bars in Essex County should close an hour earlier than they do now.
The change from 4 a.m. closings to 3 a.m. was approved by the Essex County Board of Supervisors last month, and the Liquor Authority will make the final decision after a public hearing.
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The public can speak up at a session set for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 13, in the Old County Courthouse in Elizabethtown. Anyone with a comment or opinion on the change who wishes to speak has been asked to come 15 minutes early and sign in.
Besides the earlier closing time for tap rooms, the supervisors also requested that liquor stores be allowed to stay open on Good Friday afternoons, something that had previously been prohibited but not enforced.
The closing-hour change had been requested by Community-Based Prevention Coordinator Mac MacDevitt of the Essex County Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Ticonderoga.
He asked for 2 a.m. closings, but many Lake Placid tavern owners protested that patrons in their resort community often come in after that hour, so 3 a.m. was chosen as a compromise.
He’s encouraging as many people as possible to attend the public hearing.
“I think it might be quite lively with multiple points of view being expressed,” MacDevitt said by email. “The issue has become a regional one, with Warren County passing a resolution and new interest in rolling back closing hours coming up in Saratoga and Albany.”
Saratoga County Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen said recently that he will bring the measure up again in that county, and Albany City Mayor Jerry Jennings has asked bars to close voluntarily at 2 a.m.
Franklin County bars must shut down by 3 a.m., and the closing time in Clinton County is 2 a.m.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted May 17 to ask for a change there from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m.
‘PAYING THE PRICE’
MacDevitt praised all the counties that have set earlier times for bar closure.
“Any action county officials can take now on behalf of local communities will pay off in the long run. We all will be safer and healthier and wealthier, both economically and socially, and maybe even wiser.”
He said 17 percent of drinkers consume 50 percent of the alcohol and cause most of society’s alcohol-fueled problems.
“The alcohol industry is working hard and spending a lot of money to encourage Essex County residents to drink lots of alcohol.
“And we are all paying the price of ‘cleaning up after the Clydesdales.’
“In this era of tight budgets and cost-cutting, alcohol problems drive up the cost of law enforcement, health care and child welfare,” MacDevitt said.
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