LES board slams anti-booze group for underhanded tactics

October 08, 2013 01:20PM

Restaurteurs and bar owners looking to open up shop on the Lower East Side no longer have to meet with a block association vehemently opposed to more booze flowing through the neighborhood. The slam against L.E.S. Dwellers comes from Community Board 3, which is accusing the group of  acting inappropriately on its behalf.

CB3 maintains L.E.S. Dwellers acted as a “shadow” community board, fighting for restrictions on liquor licenses in the area bound by Essex, Allen, East Houston and Delancey streets over the past year. As a result, the group will no longer be recognized as a community representative at neighborhood board meetings, according to a letter from CB3 cited by DNAinfo.

The letter from CB3 Chairwoman Gigi Li accused L.E.S Dwellers of meeting with liquor license applicants without the board’s knowledge and submitting investigative reports on those applicants to the New York State Liquor Authority.

The group also stands accused of wheeling and dealing with bar owners outside the block association’s coverage area.

“It [L.E.S. Dwellers] is not recognized by us and we are not telling the applicants that they need to meet with you,” Susan Stetzer, district manager of CB3, said a telephone conversation with Li and L.E.S. Dwellers’ Sara Romanoski and Diem Boyd, who shared the statement with DNAinfo.

The move marked the first time the board had taken such action against a block association, Setzer told DNAinfo.

The State Liquor Authority did not immediately respond to DNAinfo’s request for comment.

Boyd described the board’s decision to suspend the group as illegal and promised that L.E.S. Dwellers will still attend CB3 meetings and fight to keep disruptive bars from the area.

“If the board is not representing the community and they are limiting their voices, then we have a problem,” she told DNAinfo.

Normal Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer familiar with community board operations, told DNAinfo the group should have gone through a public hearing and full community board vote before suspending L.E.S. Dwellers.

“They can’t just decide, ‘We don’t like these people’ and more importantly, ‘We don’t like what they are saying,'” Siegel told DNAinfo. [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland