500 Foot Rule Hearing Procedure

In this first installment of a 3 part series, we’ll look at the procedures followed at New York State Liquor Authority 500 foot hearings.  Section 64(a) (7) of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law addresses the issue of the existence of three or more premises licensed for an on-premises consumption within 500 feet of an applied for location.  500 Foot “hearings” are an opportunity for the Liquor Authority to gather additional facts about the particular application.

Anxious about what will happen?  Let’s review some facts and rules about the hearing procedure.

The hearings will be conducted in an informal manner.  They are often held in a small room rather than a large courtroom-like room.  (A larger room may be necessary if there are a lot of attendees in opposition or support of the application.)

Speakers are not required to be sworn in and are not subject to cross-examination.  They can speak to and answer questions from the hearing examiner but should not be subject to questions by the applicant or its attorney.  In other words, you get to present your support or opposition opinion but don’t have to defend your position.  You may have to answer questions to clarify your position or facts presented, but will not be subjected to a line of questions aimed at showing you are wrong.

If possible, all speakers should be given the opportunity to speak.  If that is impossible because of the sheer volume of speakers, then the hearing examiner has the discretion to limit speakers either as to the length of their presentation or to limit (prevent) repetitive presentations.

The liquor license applicant should be given an opportunity to respond to all other speaker’s comments after all community persons have spoken.  This allows the applicant to present “rebuttal” arguments to any negative testimony presented to the hearing examiner.  Similarly, the applicant may be asked to clarify issues for your hearing examiner, but will not be subject to cross-examination by the community members or their attorneys.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at the issues that are often covered at the hearing.  In Part 3, we’ll give you an example applicant’s statement that will increase your chance of a positive outcome for your hearing.

This procedure was set forth in Divisional Order #812

(March 5, 1997)