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In Re Application for Relief Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18 for the 2002-2003 License Term

A-4102-02T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LICENSES—There is no obligation for a municipality or for the Commissioner of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to send licensees renewal reminder notices.

A corporation appealed an order of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) denying its request for a liquor license. The corporation inadvertently failed to timely renew its license. As explained in prior case law, and as stated in N.J.S.A. 33:1-26, liquor license terms run from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year, automatically expiring on June 30. A thirty day grace period is statutorily provided allowing a license holder to renew its license by filing a renewal application with the municipal issuing authority no later than July 30 of the year beginning the term for which renewal is sought. If a holder fails to do so, it may submit a late application between July 30 and September 28, but a municipal issuing authority may not act on the renewal unless the ABC Director grants relief. The relevant statute provides that a new license may be issued “to a person who files application . . . within 60 days following the expiration of the license renewal period.” To approve a license renewal, the Director must determine that the reason for the applicant’s failure to apply on time was “due to circumstances beyond [the applicant’s] control.”

The Court observed that the corporation did not request renewal until four months after the September 28 deadline. Therefore, the Director had no authority to grant relief even if there were a valid excuse. The corporation contended that it had been treated unfairly because it was not issued a reminder by the ABC or by the issuing municipal authority, but the Court responded that there is no statutory or regulatory obligation for sending such reminder notices.

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