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The recently opened Express Mart convenience store on Simonds Road received the town's permission on Monday to sell wine and malt beverages.

Williamstown Selectmen Approve Package Store Licenses

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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The Store at Five Corners, seen in this file photo, has opened once again. The Selectmen have approved sales of wine and malt beverages at the store in South Williamstown.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Monday approved two new package store licenses — one on the north end of town and one at the south.
 
The Store at Five Corners in South Williamstown and the Express Mart at the corner of Simonds Road (Route 7) and Sand Springs Road were before the board seeking licenses to sell wine and malt beverages.
 
Ramesh Chaudhari addressed the board on behalf of the Express Mart, which opened a couple of months ago in a property that formerly had a gas station and convenience store. The current operation is a convenience store only, the only retail operation of its kind serving the northwest corner of town.
 
Chaudhari told the board that he also operates the Cozy Corner hotel across Sand Springs Road and plans to manage both operations.
 
Michael Lewis, the manager for Berkshire Five Corners Inc., told the board he has a history at the Store at Five Corners, having managed its alcohol sales in 2010. The store has reopened after its most recent closure and is looking again sell spirits at the junctions of Routes 7 and 43.
 
Chairman Hugh Daley reminded Lewis that the town periodically conducts compliance checks of all its retail and hospitality establishments with alcohol licenses.
 
"It's our intention to make sure compliance is very strict and we have very good records," Lewis said.
 
The board asked both applicants if they had received TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) training, a requirement for managers at establishments that serve alcohol and a recommendation for package stores.
 
Lewis said he had undergone the training. Chaudhari was accompanied at Monday's meeting by one of his employees who had undergone the training.
 
Selectwoman Jane Patton, who has experience in the hospitality field, told Chaudhari that there are several people in town who are certified to do the training or he can find an online course and encouraged him to ask her for help finding a course.
 
"For what it's worth, I card anyone who looks like they're under 50," Patton said. "It makes them feel good, and it doesn't take any time."
 
Both applications were forwarded with the town's blessing to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Boston.
 
Monday's brief meeting included an update from Daley about the discussion surrounding a planned November special town meeting on expanding the Mount Greylock Regional School District.
 
Daley explained the recent decision by the Mount Greylock School Committee to temporarily suspend its own Regional District Amendment Committee and shift the conversation to the elementary school committees in member towns Lanesborough and Williamstown and said that the chairs of the two elementary school committees are working to create a working group.
 
"It's best for the towns with their individual school committees to understand what the options are before we move up that government structure — to understand what we're giving up and what we're gaining because there would be gains [from full regionalization]," Daley said. "The elementary school committees are, I think, the best place to figure it out."
 
In other business on Monday, Town Manager Jason Hoch told the board about a recent agreement that could potentially net the town tens of thousands of dollars.
 
The potential windfall is tied to the town's solar project on the capped landfill near the transfer station.
 
"The way this works is when we got into the [solar] business, generally, on net metering, we had to register," Hoch explained. "When you register with the state, regardless of the size or scope of the project, you're given a 10-megawatt ticket. You sign up for how much of it that you're going to need for your project.
 
"We're just using about 1.5 megawatts. That covers all of our municipal building, the Fire District and Mount Greylock. Because we get the 10-megawatt block 'tickets,' we have this capacity. It ends up being a salable commodity for someone looking to develop a solar project for a government entity."
 
Through its consultant from Beacon Integrated Solutions, the town heard of a pair of solar projects in Chelmsford that were looking for a public host — a holder of net metering credits.
 
In June, Hoch executed an agreement with the developer for half a megawatt (5 percent of the town's capacity) for compensation to the tune of $20,000 for years one and two and $10,000 in year three of a three-year deal.
 
"In all likelihood, we'd see it for the full 20- to 25-year lifecycle [of the project], but we'd go through in three-year increments," Hoch explained.
 
But there is no guarantee the "free money" will materialize, and Hoch was careful to explain that, "I can't spend this money yet."
 
"This all comes with the same caveat as our own project," he said, referring to extended delays that kept the landfill project from being built and from going on line. "If [the Chelmsford project] doesn't get built or if the credits aren't released …
 
"Our risk is if in this narrow window of time we align with partners who have bad luck … and we end up with two or three partners who all have projects that don't come to fruition. Then again, we have no expectation on this. This is all gravy anyway."
 
Hoch said there are not a lot of municipalities operating in the commonwealth that are "selling" solar credits, but Williamstown would by no means be the first one to do so. He also mentioned that town counsel had reviewed the agreement with SunRaise, the developer in question.
 
Hoch also announced Monday that the town will be visited on Wednesday, July 12, by staff from state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield. The staff will hold office hours at Town Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments are not necessary but can be booked in advance by calling Hinds' Pittsfield office at 344-4561.

Tags: alcohol license,   license board,   municipal solar,   

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