UPTOWN — What liquor license ban?
Less than two months after committing to enforce state Sen. Adriano Espaillat's proposed moratorium on new liquor licenses in Inwood, Community Board 12 reversed course this week by approving a license for a forthcoming restaurant.
CB12's licensing committee unanimously voted on Wednesday to approve a new liquor license for CINCO, Inc., a new restaurant opening in the old Rebounds NYC space at 5025 Broadway — which falls squarely within the area outlined in Espaillat's plan.
Rebounds NYC opened in the summer 2014 but was shut down last year by the Department of Health. Officers from the 34th Precinct who were present at Wednesday's meeting said police received a few noise complaints from the location prior to its closing.
Wednesday's vote came shortly after CB12 passed a resolution on Dec. 22 supporting Espaillat's planned legislation, which would require a yearlong freeze on any new liquor licenses in the residential area of Inwood spanning from Hillside Avenue through 10th Avenue to the tip of Northern Manhattan.
Espaillat's legislation would not impact existing liquor licenses or licenses transferred to a new business at the same address.
The board said at the time that it would wait to act on the moratorium until the new year, when it would begin rejecting new liquor license requests despite the bill not yet passing in Albany.
While the resolution's language only supported the bill itself, members agreed to honor the "spirit" of it by taking action on the board level.
When asked after the meeting why the board failed to follow through on its promise, CB 12 chairman Shah Ally said it had taken no official position regarding liquor license requests.
"We don’t have a uniform policy to outright deny an applicant," said Ally, who took over as board chairman in January but didn't attend Wednesday's meeting.
Ally added that it's business as usual for the board "when it comes to evaluating individual applicants to render a decision," despite CB12's previous public pledge.
“Should [Espaillat's legislation] pass,” Ally said after December's meeting, “we will adjust our process accordingly.”
No one from Espaillat's staff attended the meeting Wednesday, despite the senator himself appearing at multiple meetings last year earn the board's blessing, as well as holding a press conference to announce the ban.
"We are examining [CINCO's] application to determine if it falls under the restrictions of the moratorium before it comes before the general board for a vote," the senator said in a statement this week.
"As I work to pass legislation in Albany that will allow for a one-year moratorium on on-premise liquor licenses in Inwood, I will continue to oppose all licenses that are covered by the moratorium."