The latest proposal by owners of several bars in town was shot down by Town Council Tuesday night.
The council rejected a proposal by owners of Tashmoo to extend the liquor license attached to its DeHart Street restaurant to a 7,000-square-foot outdoor space behind adjacent 10 DeHart St., for an outdoor bar that would operate 23 days out of the year.
As had been the case last summer when members of the Walsh family—who also own nearby Dark Horse Lounge and Sona Thirteen—submitted a proposal for a bowling alley with a rooftop bar at 10 DeHart St., several residents spoke out against the idea.
"I was pleased Town Council rejected [the bowling alley]," Community Place resident Cynthia Jeffrey said. "But, when you cut off one head of the Hydra, two come back. This is like 23 heads came back."
Jeffrey, and other residents at the meeting, said the issues they had with the bowling alley proposal several months ago remained.
"DeHart Street is still congested, there is still trash, still narrow streets," she said. "I urge you to act like Hercules—remember, he's the guy that killed the Hydra."
"I am not supportive, and I'm disappointed in the Walsh's for even considering this," Colles Avenue resident Donna McNamara said. "I almost want to call testimony from the last proposal—most of those factors hold true for this."
"I don't think any of you would want to live across the street from this," said Alice Cutler, also of Colles Avenue. "Think carefully about this."
Eduardo Jimenez, the attorney representing David Walsh—who filed the 23 applications on Oct. 15 for liquor license extensions under "DeHart Associates LLC"—noted on multiple occasions the type of crowd that regularly goes to Tashmoo tends to be of an older age than younger crowds at bars like Grasshopper off the Green, Iron Bar, as well as fellow Walsh properties Dark Horse and Sona Thirteen.
On the jukebox there is "way back music," he said. "It's a small bar for an older crowd. It isn't rowdy."
Council Vice President Rebecca Feldman pointed out, however, that at 7,000 square feet, the proposed outdoor bar space was "three times the size of the Dark Horse. Keep that in mind."
Councilwoman Alison Deeb took issue with almost all of the proposed dates for the outdoor bar, which included several around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Easter and the Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade. She also pointed to the proposed area's proximity to a number of residents, including those within 100 feet of the premises on Community Place.
Jimenez noted there had recently been "two comparable events" that had been approved by the town, an Oktoberfest event held outside adjacent to George and Martha's American Grille and a comparison that drew several shouts from the audience.
Where the proposed times for the Tashmoo outdoor bar would have been from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. (with a start time of 8 a.m. on Parade Day), Run 4 the Seeing Eye in the adjacent Wells Fargo parking lot was held from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. "And, there was no alcohol," Feldman said.
"Yes, it's a major distinction," Jimenez conceded, another comment that drew noise from the audience.
Council President Michelle Dupree Harris at one point proposed tabling a vote on the applications until questions had been answered for the fire department, health department and police department.
Jimenez said any adjournment of the matter, however, could result in "irrepairable harm" suffered by his client.
"My response would be 'so what,'" Deeb said. Councilman Stefan Armington added that the applicant had agreed to follow any recommendations made by the various departments, so there was no need to delay a vote. David Walsh, sitting in the front row, nodded in agreement.
"Would I want it in my neighborhood," Councilwoman Raline Smith-Reid asked. "I just don't feel comfortable with it."
Again, Jimenez pointed to the kind of crowd at Tashmoo—which has a capacity of between 70 and 100—as being unique to Morristown.
When asked later by Patch what would stop a crowd that usually does not go to Tashmoo from going to its outdoor bar, Jimenez said, "there's no way to prevent it."
He said there was a benefit to having the outdoor bar on days where more people were frequenting Morristown, as it would help alleviate overflow. Plus, security staff would keep control of the area, he said.
Still, it wasn't enough to sway council from voting against the idea.
"This could perhaps set a terrible precedent [were it approved,]" Smith-Reid said. "We need to do a little bit more with what's going on regarding our liquor licenses. This is an eye-opener for us."
Only the council president voted against the rejection, citing her wish for it to have been tabled to allow various departments time to weigh in. Councilwoman Toshiba Foster voted for the rejection, citing the same reason.
After the meeting, Jimenez said his client would explore "whatever legal options were available they have a right to persue.
"I have to talk to my clients," he said.
Tuesday's denial by the town was only the latest of recent setbacks for members of the Walsh family and their several Morristown businesses. In addition to the bowling alley denial in July, Walsh patriarch William Walsh's plans for Futbolandia No. 2—a place on Early Street he envisioned as a restaurant with a liquor license serving the Hispanic community—fell through when the property's landlady "clammed up," he told MorristownGreen.com in September. Its liquor license transfer, which had been at the forefront of several contentious meetings, was approved by Town Council in June.