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Williamstown Selectmen Mull Alcohol-Violation Guidelines

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Affordable Housing Committee Chairwoman Catherine Yamamoto gave an update on the housing trust.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Selectmen are mulling a set of guidelines for dealing with violations by pouring establishments.

Selectmen Jane Allen and Tom Costley were charged with coming up with a policy for determining processes and penalties for bars and restaurants that failed to comply with liquor laws, such as underage drinking. The two met with Police Chief Kyle Johnson and researched other communities' policies.

Rather than a policy, Allen said they had looked toward more flexible guidelines.

"We were looking at compliance, not punishment," she said, adding later, "I don't think there is a need to be really heavy-handed at this point."

Costley agreed, saying the guidelines were "thorough and thoughtful."

In the past, there had been establishments that had pushed the boundaries and may have needed a crack down, she said, but that is not the case at the moment.

"Our establishments are very working very hard ... to do the right thing," she said, describing them as partners with the town and the police.

The guidelines include:
  • Show-cause hearings
  • Warnings
  • Mandated TIPS training
  • Suspension of license (including a "suspended" suspension during a probationary period)
  • Reduction in operating hours
  • Revocation of license
Some towns have a very rigid step-by-step policy that the subcommittee thought inadvisable. Rather, said Allen, they wanted to have flexibility to take into account circumstances and history, and the type of offense.

"There might be a first offense that was really so egregious that we'd need to go right to the last consequence," she said.

The board will vote on whether to adopt the guidelines at the next meeting because Chairman Thomas Sheldon was absent.

In other business, the board:

► Heard an update on the creation of an Municipal Affordable Housing Trust from Affordable Housing Committee Chairwoman Catherine Yamamoto.

The committee is seeking the use of Community Preservation Act funds to institute a trust that will position the town to take better advantage of housing opportunities. Yamamato said the committee is working on bylaws for the trust and the composition of its board. She expected to have a warrant article for the Selectmen to review at the next meeting.

►Approved the three-year appointment of Stephen Dankner to the Northern Berkshire Cultural Council and accepted with the thanks for her many years of service the resignation of the Anne Skinner from the Cable Advisory Committee.

► Approved a one-day wine and malt beverage license on May 19, from noon to 8 p.m., for the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce for a Mayfest Celebration at Weston Field with music and events to benefit Northern Berkshire Healthcare.

Approved a one-day wine and malt beverage license for March 2 and March 3, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. both nights, for Hops & Vines at the abutting 4 Water St. for the second annual Billstock, featuring local musicians.

► Voted to engage in the process to change health insurance benefits under MGL Chapter 32, sections 21-23. The change will primarily affect the insurance advisory committee, which will now become a "public employees committee."
Tags: alcohol,   

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