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Shucks! Pols shell oyster bar

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Call it the Mamary’s Law.

Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Carroll Gardens) has won passage of her bill to make it harder for bar owners — like controversial would-be oyster bar owner Jim Mamary — to open saloons near schools and places of worship.

Both houses in Albany have passed Millman’s bill, which would make it illegal for bars to open if any part of the bar’s property is 200 feet or less from any part of a school and house of the holy.

Currently, the law bans taverns whose front doors are within 200 feet of the main entrance of schoolhouses, churches, synagogues and mosques. That law left a loophole for crafty entrepreneurs, some of whom have rebuilt their establishments so their front door is just beyond the 200-foot mark.

“This change would not cost the state a dime, but it certainly would benefit our neighborhoods immensely,” Millman said, adding that she introduced the bill “largely in response to community input that we close this loophole.”

That input appears directed specifically at Mamary’s proposed oyster bar on Hoyt Street between Union and Sackett streets. Neighbors say the entrance to that bar is 196 feet from St. Agnes Church at the corner of Sackett and Hoyt streets — meaning that the bar should not be permitted to open anyway. But residents worry that Mamary would reconfigure the entrance to use the loophole.

Mamary, who also owns the Black Mountain wine bar on Union Street around the corner from the proposed oyster bar, has been embroiled in a battle with his neighbors to win a liquor license for his newest venture since he brought it before the Community Board 6 Landmarks and Land Use Committee in January.

He declined to talk about the new law.

“I don’t want to comment about any of it because it’s been a harrowing and expensive experience for me,” Mamary, an original partner in the beloved Smith Street bistro, Patois, told The Brooklyn Paper.

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Reader Feedback

Juggler314 from West Village says:
I don't think people realize how fundamentally this will change things, it's not like now bars will have to be slightly further away. Think about small blocks - you could have a church on one side of the block, where the back corner of it's property is within 200 feet of every other property on all 4 sides of the block. Now instead of the entrance needing to be 200 feet away, it could conceivably bee a thousand feet away and around 2 full corners.

I'd be more inclined to let churches and their support groups get away with things like this if churches paid property taxes - at least there'd be a whole lot fewer of them getting in the way of opening bars that way.
June 27, 2008, 11:09 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
I can see the rule applying to schools, but why places of worship?
Firstly, what rights do these places have to impede the private buisness of others (who are may not share the same views as them)?
And furthermore, how does a saloon in the area in any way impede upon their ability to do whatever it is they do?

I don't think that churches should have any more rights than saloon owners. And does this law work in reverse? If a saloon exists in a particular spot, does that mean that no new church can open within 200 feet of it?
June 30, 2008, 4:06 am
BklynMom from CG says:
Perhaps there is no way to accurately legislate a specific situation like this one and apply it to all of NYC. There are a number of particulars which do not bode well for general application. The reality is simply not clear in the article or to those who commented above.
This entire block consists of 10 buildings, roughly 16 ft wide,a row of small 2 story brownstones, all owner occupied.
These two bars are in the same three story brick building at the corner of Hoyt and Union. Black Mt entrance is at Union; the Oyster Bar will be on Hoyt. These are the only storefronts on the entire block. These bars will bring recreation / entertainment-seeking adults from Smith St to a completely residential neighborhood one block from the Gowanus Canal.
Yes, Jim M has the right to open a business in a cheap rent district. He's asking for a full liquor license- and will stay open till 4:00am 7 days a week. Once issued, the liquor license stays with the site regardless of who owns it.
The Gowanus and Wycoff Houses and St Agnes Church are within two blocks on Hoyt to the north; PS 32 is across the street at Union and Hoyt to the south.
Would you want another bar if you lived on this block?
July 8, 2008, 10:46 am

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