Only one of three liquor license requests was approved at a Braintree Board of Licensing Commissions meeting last night in what turned out to be a four-hour long hearing for the additional licenses the town received from its recent population boost.
According to Joseph Powers, Braintree Town Clerk and the Chair of the Licensing Board, the only business approved for a license was The Brew House, located on Granite Street in the Burlington Coat Mall.
The license was unanimously approved by licensing board members for satisfying all eight Ballarin factors – standards used in licensing reviews to determine the appropriateness of an application.
Factors include public need, number of dispensaries in the location, neighbor concerns, traffic, noise, size, reputation of the applicant, and appropriateness of the type of facility housing the license.
Although The Brew House passed with flying colors, the other two requests wouldn’t favor so positively.
The owner of the Braintree Market ‘N Deli, located at the corner of Liberty Street and Grove Street, was turned down for a liquor license for a proposed adjoining package store.
Although neighbors came out in support of the Kana Beer and Wine proposal, saying that the establishment had a good reputation in the area, board members denied the application on the grounds of traffic concerns and a lack of public need.
“The town engineer presented a map that showed an existing package store 950 feet away from the proposed location. Not only there was not a need, but if there was a need, it was being met,” Powers said after the meeting. Additionally, “the number of existing dispensaries in a locality [was already high], given that there was also a large package store around the corner.”
Despite protestations that traffic would not be impacted, all five members agreed that the addition of another package store could only worsen traffic in an area that is already prone to accidents.
The board also voted negatively three-to-two that the establishment shouldn’t be the type of facility to carry a liquor license.
It was a rejection Powers especially is passionate about.
“I have had a long standing objection to convenience stores being package stores … that’s not the kind of operation we’re trying to have. It’s not meant to be quick and easy. It’s meant to be available, controlled, and checked,” he said.
What’s more, when Braintree faced a ballot vote years ago for alcohol in supermarkets, the issue was soundly defeated in the commonwealth, and overwhelmingly defeated in Braintree.
“It’s a large part of the reason why I rejected the application,” Powers said. “The applicants are wonderful people who do a great job, but should their application be granted for a license? I think that’s a different question.”
The applicant can chose to appeal the ruling to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC). The lawyer who spoke on behalf of the store last night could not be reached for comment.
The final request - for Chipotle Mexican Grill at the South Shore Plaza - was withdrawn without prejudice after members expressed concerns about a fast food restaurant having a liquor license.
Yet the difficulty in getting liquor licenses last night is not meant to be a message for other applicants, Powers said.
“We’ve always been bound by balancing the applicants request with these factors,” Powers said. “Those factors touch on every facet to the community, should a license be granted. This board prides itself by taking each application on its own merits and its own time. I would hope future applications wouldn’t read into it…it really depends on many factors.”
The guidelines will be important as the board works its way through the recent uptick in license requests.
Especially as the population increase granted the town two additional all-liquor licenses, one additional beer and wine license, and one package store license, the requests have been plenty.
“We’ve seen brisk activity with our liquor licenses. The fact that we have more available means that pace has not slackened at all,” Powers said.
Although the town recently received more licenses due to a population increase, The town is currently in the process of requesting six more additional all-liquor licenses for restaurants in three specific areas of town.
The measure was recommended by Town Council and has been filed at the legislature, although it is unclear when a decision for the Home Rule Petition request would be made.