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Posted by Ricardo Kaulessar, Urban Times News on August 07, 2003 at 11:53:41:

Communipaw Avenue businessman clashes with neighbors over proposed store

Urban Times News
By Ricardo Kaulessar - E-mail:

406 Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City, located between Woodward and Van Horne Avenues, is at the present time an abandoned storefront, with newspapers taped to the insides of the windows, at one time a day care center. At the present time, a potential target for vandals and other trouble.

But it will not be abandoned for long as Robert Paulino, who owns the Lucky Number One Bodega one block away and another businesses on Communipaw Avenue, had recently been granted a transfer of an inactive liquor license by the Municipal Board of Jersey City Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) but must now wait for approval for use to the Communipaw Avenue location. However, those who reside and own businesses near the projected liquor store believe this is the wrong business to have operating in that particular area.

Rosalyn Browne, manager of the family-run Jackson Funeral Home on the corner of Communipaw and Van Horne Avenues, and president of the Communipaw Avenue Block Association, said that the idea of a liquor store in a heavily drug-infested neighborhood “is always a magnet for loitering, littering and illegal activity."

“When you look out, starting around five-six P.M., that’s when you see a lot of drug-dealing activity in this area. And if Mr. Paulino opens a liquor store, which he has claimed he would make sure that there no loiterers, how is he going to make sure that people are not hanging around his store. He would lose business, and I don’t think he would open an liquor store to lose business”, said Browne in a recent interview with the Urban Times News.

Browne along with other members of the block association was at the July 15th ABC meeting to voice their opposition to granting of the license. Paulino was also at the meeting with some supporters of his own as he provided the board with a petition of 309 signatures in favor of his operating a liquor establishment. The board, however, decided not to vote on the matter until the next meeting on September 16th as they cited his inability to understand questions they were posing because of a language barrier, and requested that he must accompanied by an interpreter at the next meeting.

But according to Paulino’s attorney, Anthony J. Bianciella of the D’Alessandro, Jacovino and Gerson Law Offices in Florham Park, he believed that the postponed vote was “nothing more than a delay tactic” and that “a question asked of him was unclear” was really the problem.

Browne also pointed out that there’s a law whereby a liquor store cannot operate within 200 feet of a church or a school. Officially, it is N.J.S.A. 33:1-76 which “prohibits a licensee from transferring a license to a site within two hundred feet of a church or school unless the licensee obtains the consent of the church or school.” In the case of 406 Communipaw, there are two churches that exist within the 200-foot parameter – The Church of God in Christ Temple at 405-407 Communipaw Avenue and Iglesia Pentecostal at 416 Communipaw Ave.

The pastors of the Church of God In Christ and Iglesia Pentecostal, Randolph D. Johnson and Victor Dumantt were unable to be reached for comment before article went to press.

Bianciella countered that the Church of God in Christ has already signed a waiver that gave consent for the granting of the liquor license for 406 Communipaw. And as for Iglesia Pentecostal, Bianciella stated that there’s an existing rule that an edifice that was not intended as church but is used as such is not a church existing under the protection of the specific statute N.J.S.A. 33:1-76. Simply put, there’s no obstacle for Paulino that exists within the 200 feet boundary. But there is still the issue of the residents in the immediate area and especially the Block Association.

“The (Communipaw Avenue) Block Association should be happy there’s no trouble outside his store,” said Bianciella as he emphasized the positive aspect of Paulino potentially operating a liquor store, “What’s better, to have a abandoned burned-out structure?

For Browne, herself, her family, the various merchants and residents who are part of the Block Association, they’re not trying to stop Paulino from operating a business but just another kind of business as she has made suggestions at previous block association meeting that he can operate a pharmacy, a fruit market, an African-American or Spanish cuisine restaurant that can uplift the area but he doesn’t seem amenable to the suggestions.

Part of the Block Association’s accomplishments has been to preserve the historical landmarks of the area such as the Whitlock Cordage and the Jackson Funeral Home as well as clean up Communipaw Avenue with Saturdays the past few months dedicated to that task. With all this work, Browne doesn’t want to see this area backslide into a dismal state.

You can see the work that the Block Association has tried to do in the last three years and it was borne out of businesspeople and concerned residents that saw nothing but drug trafficking all day and night. So we want that to change and Paulino’s family should be part of that positive change forward. Not pulling us back to the only thing they could do in black areas, where people of color live, is a liquor store.”

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