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Final hearing on Ampere liquor store

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The controversy about the fate of the Country Club Wine Shop, a liquor store that applied for a license to operate at a former deli site on Ampere Avenue may be coming to a conclusion. 

A 9:30 a.m. hearing took place at the State Liquor Authority’s offices at 317 Lenox Avenue on Wednesday, August 6, but it is questionable how many people from the community took the trek down to Harlem to witness the procedure.

A ruling from the SLA is expected soon, but no word has reached the Spencer Estate community, which had many members opposed to the venture, as to which way the winds are blowing.  However, many sources believe the applicants, the Pitts, will prevail. 

The applicants for the liquor license, covering both wine and liquors, are consultant Clifford Pitt and his wife Erika. 

“We found out about this on Saturday, and most of the people are not going to be able to go to the meeting because our residents have to go to work; government agencies often don’t make it easy,” said Spencer Estate Civic Association president Al Carena, prior to the hearing.

When asked if he thinks Barino’s Market, which is subletting the property at 3202 Ampere Avenue to the Pitts, would suffer from the move, Carena said didn’t think many people in the neighborhood would hold a grudge against the deli.

Pitt met with the public in a meeting at CB 10’s office on May 13, as the board decided how to respond to the opposition to the store. Clifford Pitt, speaking for his proposed enterprise, said he would sell predominantly wine, which he felt was perfect for the area, according to his market research.

Pitt was subsequently chided in the public questioning phase of the May 13 hearing by residents opposing the opening of the his store, even though legally, if the SLA grants him a license, he has a right to open the wine shop.

“I spoke out of respect for the community,” Pitt said after the CB 10 meeting. CB 10, responding to the public, wrote an advisory letter to the SLA, and received a confirmation letter in reply.

CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said that he felt the SLA hearing likely allowed for further public comment, but is mainly a SLA administrative measure.

“CB 10 doesn’t have jurisdiction over off-premises licenses, but we sent the SLA an advisory letter expressing the community’s concerns,” Kearns stated. “I don’t know what people think SLA hearings are like, but they are not big, dramatic events.  This is just something SLA is mandated to do.”

Updated 5:29 pm, October 21, 2011
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