ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers are just one vote cast away from making bar closing times an hour earlier.
This week’s Ways and Means session of the County Board of Supervisors saw passage of the new hours for alcohol sales with a tally of 14-2, with two supervisors absent.
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The final vote is at 10 a.m. next Monday in the Old County Courthouse in Elizabethtown.
The change from 4 a.m. was proposed by Mac MacDevitt of the Essex County Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Ticonderoga.
MacDevitt had asked for a reduction to 2 a.m., but supervisors compromised on 3 a.m. after some tavern owners objected.
Supervisor George Canon (R-Newcomb) cast one of the two votes against the measure.
“My local establishment is not in favor of this,” he said.
Supervisor Michael Marnell (R-Schroon) voted against the reduced hours for the same reason, while Supervisors Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) and Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) were absent.
If Essex County approves the shortened hours for alcohol sales, the next step would be for the State Liquor Authority to hold a public hearing locally then vote on the request.
Some surrounding counties already have earlier hours — Clinton County enforces 2 a.m., while Franklin is at 3 a.m.
Warren County was planning to reduce its bar hours from a 4 a.m. closing but recently stalled on the effort.
‘TO PROTECT FOLKS’
Some Essex County supervisors wanted to wait to see what new hours Warren County legislated, but Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) said that could be futile.
“We’re compromising for 3 o’clock,” Morrow said. “We shouldn’t wait for Warren County; they may do nothing.”
In requesting the earlier closings, MacDevitt said the measure would reduce alcohol-based problems and their costs, curb binge drinking, and improve health, safety and the neighborhood quality of life.
“A small percentage of the people drink 50 percent of the alcohol,” MacDevitt said outside the meeting. “You want to protect folks from excessive drinking.”
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