A law that restricts wine and liquor stores to close by 7 pm, and to open for only one hour in the morning on select major holidays, has been moving toward being repealed, after years of resistance from local businesses upcounty who wanted to maintain the short hours, citing that stores who opted to stay open until 9 pm would cannibalize their business.
In a milestone never before reached by prior Dutchess County Legislators who attempted the repeal, it appears that the time is ripe for overriding the opposition. Proposed changes to the law are now before the New York State Liquor Authority, who needs to hear from the public on whether they want this law changed. The New York State Liquor Authority is holding a Public Comment hearing on Tuesday, August 27, at 4:30 pm at 1 Overocker Road in Poughkeepsie., and wants to hear from you before they make their decision.
In Prior Years, Attempts To Extend Open Hours Failed
Former Dutchess County Legislator Jerry Landisi attempted to change this law years ago, with Beacon Mayor Randy Casale’s support. It didn’t budge. This year, current Dutchess County Legislator (and Beacon resident) Frits Zernike authored a resolution to change the law, citing in a press release: "This allows individual businesses to tailor their hours to the buying habits of people in their localities, instead of the one-size-fits-some regulation we now have. Because you can stay open til 9 pm doesn't mean you have to. But the 7 pm closing time means everybody has to stop doing business at the same time."
2019 Saw The Most Success - Plus A Veto - To Extend The Hours
The 2019 attempt also had the support of Beacon’s mayor and city council; the Mayor traveled to the legislature meeting where the vote was passed 18-6 in April 2019 in favor of extending the open hours. However, the Dutchess County Executive, Marcus Molinaro vetoed that vote, declaring that not enough public awareness was made about the vote. Yet, in his memo announcing his veto, he said he supported the move to extend the open hours:
“I have no objection to this county requesting the New York State Liquor Authority consider extending the hours of operation for Dutchess wine and liquor stores. I support competition and a more open market place, and I want Dutchess County businesses to have the greatest opportunity to compete and succeed.
Restrictive State policies and outdated laws governing this industry have created an uneven playing field that should be addressed. Further, in many ways, the State Liquor Authority remains an institution rooted in the past, unable to keep up with the rapidly changing market, local needs, and the concerns of the State’s and Dutchess County’s residents. A better system would devolve authority and allow local municipalities with their zoning regulations to regulate the retail of wine and liquor for off-premises consumption. It is befuddling, at best, as to why New York has maintained this Prohibition-era regime, and I do not know how this County became the last in the state to enable extended hours of operation.”
The legislators voted again to override his vote, 19-5 in May 2019, moving the challenge to the State Liquor Authority.
What Will Happen Next?
Tune in after Tuesday, August 27, when the New York State Liquor Authority hears from the public. You could comment here or on our Instagram about this, but if you really want to make a difference, travel up to the meeting! Or according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, you can write in:
Include in the subject line: "Dutchess County Hearing."
LETTER BY SNAIL MAIL
Address your comments to the secretary's office at:
80 South Swan St. Suite 900
Albany, NY 12210