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In re Application for Relief Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


June 17, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18 FOR THE 2006-2007 LICENSE TERM LORENZEN WINE & LIQUORS, LLC.

On appeal from the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Lic. #0910-44-125-005.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 30, 2008

Before Judges Parker and Koblitz.

Lorenzen Wine and Liquors, LLC, the holder of a plenary retail alcohol distribution license issued by Union City, appeals from an order by the State Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), denying relief under N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18 for the 2006-2007 license term after failure to timely renew the previous license.

Carmen Cecilia Caminero, managing member of Lorenzen Wine & Liquors, LLC, purchased a plenary retail distribution license and the associated business for $190,000, her entire life savings. She also entered into and personally guaranteed a fifteen year lease for the business premises. She received the liquor license certificate from Union City on December 6, 2005. She had never previously owned a liquor license. Her husband was told by a municipal employee that it was good for one year, causing her to believe that the license expired in December 2006. However, the license stated on the face of the certificate that it expired on June 30, 2006. She expected a renewal notice, which was not sent by the ABC or the municipality. About nine months after the expiration of the liquor license, she filed a petition seeking a special ruling to permit the issuance of a license, which was denied by the State Director of the Division of ABC, although Union City did not object.

Appellant raises two issues: that constitutional due process rights were denied since she did not receive a renewal reminder and that Lorenzen substantially complied with the statutory renewal requirements for renewing the liquor license. After careful consideration of the arguments advanced by appellant, we affirm based on the mandatory time frames applicable to the renewal of liquor licenses.

The issues raised by appellant have no constitutional implications because ownership of a liquor license is a privilege and not a property right. Cavallaro 556 Valley St. Corp. v. Div. of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 351 N.J. Super. 33, 40 (App. Div. 2002) (citing Mazza v. Cavicchia, 15 N.J. 498 (1954)).

All liquor licenses are issued for a term of one year from July 1. N.J.S.A. 33:1-26. Licensees, however, are granted a thirty day grace period to file a renewal application with the municipal issuing authority after the new license term commences, and sixty more days to apply to the ABC Director for a special ruling permitting the municipality to issue a "new" license. N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.13; N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18.

A municipal issuing authority has no statutory obligation to remind licensees of the need for annual renewal. The ABC alone is required to publish a notice of renewal weekly in a county newspaper from the week of April 1 to the week of June 1. N.J.S.A. 33:1-25. Appellant makes no allegation that these weekly notices were not published in Hudson County.

Appellant did not file a petition seeking a special ruling to permit the issuance of a license until the end of March, siX months after the last statutory grace period. Thus, it did not comply in any way with the statutory requirements. Neither appellant's misunderstanding regarding the filing deadlines nor the hardship it will suffer as a result of losing the liquor license, permit the renewal of the license or issuance to it of a new liquor license after the statutory deadline. After September 28, the ABC Director has no legislative authority to consider either a new or renewal license. Cavallaro, supra, 351 N.J. Super. at 43.

Affirmed.

20080617

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