The Bloomfield Council voted last Monday evening to approve a resolution determining the fate of the liquor license held by the current owner of the Moon Palace Bar/Restaurant, which has been cited for numerous violations over the past several years.
The owner had been scheduled to appear before the council for a hearing at the last regular council meeting on February 1, 2016, but instead closed down the restaurant voluntarily on January 20th, requesting that the council place conditions on the license in lieu of a hearing.
The resolution requires a 30-day suspension of the liquor license (beginning January 20), and the condition that the license can no longer be used for the sale of alcohol for consumption on premises, but only as a prepackaged goods store. In addition, no alcohol would be allowed to be consumed on the premises even in a “bring your own” situation. If the license is sold, the new owner can apply to have the conditions lifted from the license.
Councilman Joe Lopez objected to the agreement, saying he did not want to abdicate his and the council’s right to hold a hearing. The new township attorney, Michael Parlavecchio, explained that Moon Palace was scheduled for hearings before the Municipal Court (on February 25) and the County Board, where their violations will be addressed and fines levied. He explained it is better to let the courts finalize the disposition of the case, because if the council held the initial hearing and meted out the penalties, the license holder would have the ability to appeal to the higher courts.
The resolution passed with five “yes” votes and two abstentions: Councilmen Lopez and Chalet.
There was over an hour of public comment before the council was able to proceed with the business portion of the meeting.
Russ Zimmerman asked what had happened to the “Pay-to-Play” ordinance the council had discussed at the January 11th conference meeting. Mayor Venezia explained that since the township had since hired a new attorney, he would need to go over the ordinance before bringing it to a vote on first reading.
Ron Simoncini, representative of the Bloomfield Property Owners Association, and representatives of the Bloomfield Tenants Organization spoke about the pros and cons of rent control. Trish Comstock, President of the BTO, said that it was a “moral issue” – that landlords shouldn’t be making money “on the backs of poor people.”
Daniel Chalet, nephew of Councilman Elias Chalet, spoke regarding the conflict in the parking lot after the January 4th meeting between Councilman Lopez and himself, which had resulted in charges being filed on both sides. The altercation occurred after Lopez had called for the resignation of Councilman Chalet stemming from his November arrest on bribery charges, during the January 4th meeting.
Daniel Chalet stated that he had appeared for a hearing on Monday and all charges against him were dropped except one for harassment. He went on to assure Councilman Lopez that he would “never hurt you or your family,” and that he had “never hurt anyone,” alluding to previous remarks by Lopez and his family that they feared for their safety. He stated he would always stick up for his family. “My family, right or wrong,” he said.
Lopez later made a motion to again ask for Councilman Chalet’s resignation, citing Chalet’s recent indictment on the charges that he allegedly accepted a $15,000 bribe from a property owner in connection to a land purchase the township was considering in exchange for his support of the transaction, as well as additional charges. There was no second and the council did not act on his motion.
At the beginning of the meeting, the mayor and council issued a number of proclamations honoring participants in the recent Martin Luther King Day of Service project, which included a food drive. Councilwoman Wartyna Davis, who spearheaded the event, announced that six tons of food had been gathered, a ton more than the original goal of five tons. Volunteers also worked to improve the Bloomfield Public Library and work on creating a youth lounge there.
Various groups had participated and were each awarded a proclamation, including: representatives of Temple Ner Amid, Demarest School, the Bloomfield Public Library, Hot Bagels Abroad, Investors Bank, Sherman Williams, and the Bloomfield High School Key Club and Track Team (pictured).
- The council passed resolutions appointing members and liaisons to several boards, commissions and committees;
- The council voted to appoint two Special Law Enforcement Officers (Frank Faretra and Robert Sarappa);
- The council passed a resolution to award a professional service contract to All Covered of Cherry Hill, NJ, to provide information technology consulting to the Township.
- They also voted to appoint three new school traffic guards and appointed two Deputy Municipal Court Administrators.
The next council meeting will be a conference meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 7, 2016, in the 2nd floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.