Q. My corporation has a restaurant liquor license, and I have had two (2) citations involving amplified music being heard outside of my premises within the past year. I have a live music venue and neighbors have been complaining to the State Police about hearing the music. The PLCB has sent me a letter objecting to the renewal of my amusement permit claiming I abused my licensing privileges because of the two citations. Can the Board legally do this? I have also been listed as not being reputable because of the music citations.
A. The Pennsylvania Liquor Code makes it unlawful for licensees to use a “loudspeaker or similar device whereby the sound of music or other entertainment” or the advertisement thereof can be heard beyond the licensee’s property line. The Liquor Code further authorizes the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to review a licensee’s citation and operating history to determine whether or not the licensee has abused the privilege of holding a liquor license to such an extent that either the liquor license or the amusement permit or both should not be renewed or validated. The PLCB has obviously reviewed your citation history regarding the two (2) citations for amplified music being heard off of your licensed premises and is now objecting to the renewal or validation of your amusement permit because of the citations.
The Board’s objection letter will also contain an objection naming the individuals listed as shareholders, officers and directors, members or partners and the manager involved in the entity holding the license as being potentially no longer considered reputable as required by the Liquor Code because of the citations.
The PLCB will schedule a hearing on whether or not your amusement permit will be renewed. Pending the hearing you will be issued an authority letter to sell alcoholic beverages and provide entertainment.
At the hearing, which is held before a PLCB Hearing Examiner, you will have to present evidence as to what steps that you have taken to correct and prevent a repetition of the amplified music violations, as for example; soundproofing; keeping the windows closed; etc. Thereafter, the PLCB will make a decision on the renewal of your amusement permit. If the PLCB decides not to renew the permit, you then must appeal the decision to your local county court of common pleas within twenty (20) days of the Board’s decision.
Your amusement permit will be renewed if you present a strong case at the hearing. However, the Board, before it approves the renewal of your amusement permit, may require you to enter into a Conditional Licensing Agreement which would impose certain conditions or restrictions on the liquor license and/or the amusement permit.
You must be vigilant in preventing music from being heard beyond your property line since any further amplified music violations would result in the Board either refusing to renew the liquor license and/or amusement permit or the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement issuing another citation.
You should consult with your attorney as soon as possible.