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The Licensing Board voted not to recommend a home-rule petition to add another all-alcohol license to the city and reported its rejection of a package store license for a local convenience store had been upheld.

North Adams License Board Advises Against Home-Rule Petition

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The Licensing Board on Tuesday voted not to support any actions toward a home-rule petition to add another all-alcoholic retail license in the city. 
David Atwell, owner of Dave's Package Store at the corner of Eagle and River streets, had approached the commission seeking information about how he could gain a license to sell hard liquor. 
Atwell said it was feedback from his customers over the past year that had lead him to consider changing his license. 
"Since we've been open, almost 13 months now, at a location that was a full liquor store since 1959 until a few years ago, I get a lot of requests for hard liquor," he said, particularly from older people in the neighborhood, walkers and people heading up to Clarksburg or Vermont now that the state liquor store in Stamford is closed. "I'm mainly looking for some guidance from you."
There had been a bit of musical chairs action related to Atwell's location. The liquor store business, Lopardo's, had been established in 1933 by Michael Lopardo and moved to the River Street site in 1959 following the demolition of its previous building during the Central Artery Project.
The business closed a few years ago and was purchased by the former River Street Package Store when its location farther west on River was purchased and demolished. V&V (Steeple City Spirits), which also had at first sought a home-rule petition to expand its offerings, bought its all-alcohol license and the package store reverted to a new wine and beer license. Then River Street closed and Atwell bought the building and applied for a new package store license a year ago.
When V&V had requested a home-rule petition in 2014, the Licensing Board had recommended against it.
"At that time, we did not feel there was a need, it was a 2-1 [vote]," said board member Rosemari Dickinson.  Instead, the board had encouraged V&V's owners to purchase an existing license. 
The city has four all-alcohol licenses. That's one more than it should have, according to the state, which sets the ratio at one license to every 5,000 people. Current holders are V&V, Whitney's Beverage Shop, Draper's Wine & Spirits, and West's Wine & Spirits.
Chairman Jeffrey Polucci said Atwell could still pursue a home-rule petition through the mayor's office or City Council but "you would still have to come back to us to accept it."
"If I get direction from you guys that you don't think it's a good idea, then I'm fine," Atwell said. "The business is strong, I like doing it. It's more of a request from people."
The former restaurateur said he had not planned to extensive expanding his offerings if he got the license. He'd upgraded his wine and craft beer selections in response to requests and would add limited hard liquor choices as a convenience to his patrons. 
Because his customer base has included the Porches Inn as well as Clarksburg and the area northeast, he thought "logistically it would make sense," but Dickinson said the board could not consider areas not within the city's limits. He could purchase a license from an existing entity, she said, but Atwell responded that the one for sale also involved leases and inventory and would not be worth the investment and he did not want to run two locations.
Among the reasons the board gave for not recommending was "saturation of the area," which had also led them to reject a beer and wine license last year for EZ Mart on Ashland Street. At that time, Dave's had been included as part of the saturation.
"There's a lot of concern about how many there are in a very small area," said member Peter Breen, referencing the two other downtown stores Whitney's and V&V.
EZ Mart had appealed the rejection of a beer and wine license to the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. Polucci had gone to the hearing held on Nov. 6, 2018. This week, the ABCC delivered an opinion that supported the Licensing Board's decision.
The opinion referred to Ballarin Inc. v. Licensing Board of Boston, in which the Appeals Court stated licensing boards can make decisions based on a wide range of factors including "an assessment of public want and appropriateness of a liquor license at a particular location."
North Adams had turned down EZ Mart based on need and saturation, said Polucci. Dickinson also pointed out the ABCC had factored in the concerns expressed by neighbors of the convenience store at the board's hearing.
In other business, the board approved a one-day application for beer and wine from Jessica Sweeney for Roots Teen Center fundraising event at the Norad Mill at 60 Roberts Drive on Friday, April 12.

Tags: alcohol license,   license board,   

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