Atlantic City Council on Wednesday night voted in favor of allowing open containers in certain parts of the city’s Tourism District. The city by itself has no power to permit local bars and restaurants to sell take-out drinks. But the council’s move was an important step to show the state that the city wants the law changed, officials in favor of the legislation said.
“I think it would be a much-needed attraction, hopefully it would boost business,” said City Council President Marty Small. “We always say that city council is open to business and opportunities and this is just an indication that we are.” Small said the Atlantic City Police Department also supports the move. “I think it would be something good for the city,” he added.
Councilman Jesse Kurtz said a council committee has been discussing with local businesses and other stakeholders how the logistics of an open container law might work in Atlantic City. Beach bars have been permitted on certain stretches of the city’s beach for some time, but allowing public drinking along the Boardwalk would be another matter.
Several council members said they would want to make sure the end of the Boardwalk near the new Stockton University campus would not be included in any possible extension of the open container law. It is also not clear how much support there is for allowing open containers beyond the future Hard Rock Casino & Hotel site, on the far end of the Boardwalk. Kurtz said he had not yet heard from the Flagship, for instance, but that businesses at Gardner’s Basin in the Inlet would like open container rules extended to their district. There is also some interest in allowing open containers in limited areas off the Boardwalk, too. Small said the developers who are hoping to open a beer garden on the beach block of Tennessee Avenue have also said they would like to see public drinking extend from the Boardwalk up that street.
New Jersey Senate Republican Minority Leader Tom Kean has previously spoken in favor of letting people drink on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, but it is not clear how much support there would be for the measure at the state level. Kurtz said he had not reached out to state representatives before the city council moved to vote on its support for the measure. Local state legislators Sen. Chris Brown and Assemblymen John Armato and Vince Mazzeo did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday morning.
You can watch the council meeting here: