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Public hearing on bar closing times

Posted at 8:17 AM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 08:17:15-05

The Erie County Legislature held a public hearing Tuesday, giving community members a chance to voice their concerns about rolling back the bar closing time in the county from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"Very few good things happen after one or two in the morning," said Chief Mark Pacholec, of the Orchard Park Police Department.

Those in support of the change say it will lead to fewer drunk drivers and increase safety on the road.

"I came here with one statistic, and that statistic is that my son is dead," said Steven Roller, who lost his son in May to a drunk driving accident in West Seneca. "This change can save people from legal trouble over alcohol, caused by a few more beers when most people are sleeping."

Ed Cotter, who is a former Buffalo Police officer, says most assaults happen after the bars close. He is in favor of moving the time up.

"Get the people home earlier, and get the police to go out and do the police work, instead of responding to a bar assault," Cotter said.

Opponents, however, say the move would be bad for the bar business.

"I've been out in the community and talked to people in the business who this is really going to affect," said Legislator Joe Lorigo, who is against rolling the time back. "It's going to affect businesses, and I don't see a real legitimate purpose for changing a rule that's been in place for 35 years."

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, who could not attend the meeting prepared a statement read by press representative Scott Zylka, which read: "Changing the closing time would only change the time period in which after-hour DWI arrests would occur."

Developer Mark Croce also spoke against the closing time. He says the issue of bringing ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to Western New York needs to be addressed.

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