By Claudio E. Cabrera
Special to DNAinfo.com New York
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A neighborhood bar and lounge with an extensive history of violations received a preliminary positive recommendation by a committee on the local community board, despite strong opposition from the NYPD.
Community Board 12's economic development committee voted unanimously on a resolution to approve a new wine and beer license for G69 Bar at 1985 Amsterdam Avenue, between West 158th and 159th streets, despite police saying the establishment had been selling alcohol without a license.
Committee members said they recommended the license based on the owner's willingness to work with the committee and neighborhood restaurant owners to learn the city rules and regulations related to running an alcohol-selling establishment.
Deputy Inspector Brian Mullen, commanding officer of the 33rd Precinct, said he opposed the application request because of the location's long history of problems.
"I strongly object to this request," he said. "This location has been a huge problem in our precinct and community for a very long time."
Mullen detailed a history of noise complaints and illegal activity at the location, including police busting the establishment for serving alcohol without a license in May.
G69 Bar's owner Albert Camilo, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood who along with two partners took over the venue in February, told the board that he had believed he could use the previous owner's license until he was able to procure one for himself.
"I was not aware that I couldn't serve liquor, because of what the previous owner told me," Camilo said. "Obviously, it's not like it was 20 years ago when this was a common practice."
Mullen added that cops had responded to several fights in and around the venue in the past year.
"While all of them may have not been under his ownership watch, there have been several incidents since he and his ownership group took over this venue," Mullen said.
Committee member Richard Lewis, who lives near the establishment, also had his share of complaints about the venue.
"I've seen streamers placed by your venue to block police cameras on the outside," Lewis told Camilo. "There have also been complaints about various fights and noise issues related to your establishment."
CB12 committee members voted on stipulations that the new establishment operate with a stricter license, which would only allow Camilo to sell wine until his establishment proves it can abide by the rules.
"We think you are a honorable man who is a longtime resident trying to improve his community, but we also see what's happened at the bar in the past and now under your watch," committee member Elizabeth Lorris Ritter told Camilo.
The committee also stipulated that the bar close at 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight from Sundays to Thursdays, two hours earlier than requested by the owner.
"Come back to us in a year, and if your venue has shown the ability to stay out of the cops' eyes," said Ariel Ferreira, the committee's chair, "...we will revisit your application for a liquor license."
CB12 will vote on the economic development committee’s resolution during its executive meeting this month. The State Liquor Authority will then have a final say, since the board serves only an advisory role.