Ross. johnJohn Ross addressing the Red Bank Council last night.

A decision on whether the borough can shut down Best Liquors may not come from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division before the end of February, assistant borough attorney Tom Hall said at Monday night's Red Bank Council session.

And even then, store owner Sunny Sharma still has an another avenue of appeal.

The news added to the frustrations of Leighton Avenue neighbors of the store, who said they had laid off on calling the police over noise, litter and drug violations in recent months only because they thought their ordeal was at last near an end.

"The process just keeps going," said John Ross, whose home faces the West Side liquor store. "At what point do the citizens' rights to a normal life outweigh this guy's rights? We are prisoners to what this man has done," he said, referring to Sharma.

The council, after a multi-session hearing presented in the manner of a criminal trial, concluded in June 2007 that store employees had repeatedly sold booze to minors and voted to revoke the store's license to sell alcohol.

Sharma appealed the decision to a state administrative law judge assigned to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division last March. In October, Judge Joseph Martone upheld the shutdown.

Sharma then asked the ABC for reconsideration of the case. That's where it now stands, Hall said, reporting that the division has indicated a decision is likely by the end of next month. Sharma could further appeal an adverse ruling to the appellate division of the state Superior Court, Hall said.

Ross and neighbor John Tyler, who in November failed for the second time to win a council seat, last night pressed the council for some measure of relief from noise, parking violations and other hassles.

Councilman Mike DuPont, too, asked whether the governing body could impose restrictions on the store's operation in the interim.

"We tried to get restrictions imposed when they filed their appeal, but the ABC said no," said borough attorney Ken Pringle. "Quality of life doesn't scale real high on the agency's priority list."

Administrator Stanley Sickels encouraged the neighbors to continue calling police so that complaints can be documented. But Tyler said the violators scatter before the police arrive — aided, apparently, by a police scanner in the store.

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