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Church objects, so no beer and wine at gas station

Posted by Johanna Seltz  August 27, 2010 11:58 AM

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The Braintree town license board has refused to give a gas station-convenience store permission to sell beer and wine, partly because of objections from the church across the street.

Mobil on the Run, at the corner of Elm and Adams, is within 500 feet of St. Thomas More Roman Catholic church, and the board was required by state law to consider the church’s opinion, according to Town Clerk Joseph Powers.

The pastor of St. Thomas More Parish sent a letter to the board saying he had concerns about Mobil on the Run selling beer and wine because of the large numbers of children and teenagers who worship and take religious classes at the church.

Alcoholics Anonymous meets at the church five days a week, another factor that made the liquor sales across the street problematic, said the Rev. James J McCarthy.

McCarthy said the church already has experienced “property damage associated with drinking at night on isolated areas of our property in the past” and that 32 parishioners had told him they opposed the license.

McCarthy praised the gas station owner, but said he felt compelled to object to the license.

“Beer and wine area already amply available in the Braintree community in settings apart from the circumstances cited previously and without the social risks. I feel it important to favor the protection of the young over the convenience of their elders,” McCarthy wrote.

Powers said the license board also made a point of noting that the store’s owner was not a factor in the denial. “The board was unanimous that his reputation was beyond reproach,” Powers said.

But the board also was unanimous that selling beer and wine at Mobil on the Run would be “detrimental to the spiritual and educational activities of the St. Thomas More Parish,” Powers said.

Powers said the board also didn’t want to set a new precedent of allowing beer and wine to be sold at gas stations or convenience stores, and preferred limiting their sale to alcohol stores.

The license board comprises the town clerk, police and fire chiefs, building inspector, and director of municipal licenses and inspections. The unanimous vote to deny the license took place on Aug. 24.

Mobil on the Run has 30 days to appeal to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seelenfam@verizon.net.

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