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Wellesley Town Meeting passes measure for beer, wine sale in grocery stores

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  December 11, 2013 02:03 PM

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Wellesley Town Meeting members voted this week to petition the state Legislature to change the town’s bylaws to allow the sale of beer and wine at Wellesley's grocery and specialty stores.

If Beacon Hill goes along with the town's request, the proposal would go back before voters in a townwide election. If the ballot question passes, the Board of Selectmen would determine the number of licenses and how they would be allocated, among other regulations, said Hans Larsen, Wellesley’s executive director.

Town Meeting members voted to petition the state for up to six licenses, according to the town clerk's office.

Various store owners have approached the town asking to sell beer and wine to keep their stores competitive, and many local residents have supported the idea, Larsen said.

"What is appropriate for the town today might be different than what was appropriate 50 years ago," Larsen previously told the Globe. "Times have changed and we’re hoping that our property owners and merchants can remain competitive as there is increased competition in other communities."

Beer, wine and liquor can be purchased at a number of restaurants in town but not at grocery stores or specialty stores, Larsen said.

However, he said residents should not expect to see full-on liquor stores any time soon.

"We’re taking a smaller step to just sell beer and wine in limited places," he previously said. "I think the perception is that package stores is a step too far. It's also not a step that we feel is necessary because no one has been arguing in favor of that."

During this week's special Town Meeting, members also voted to allocate $308,855 to study constructing a new 14,500 square-foot senior center at 496 Washington St.

The proposal to build the new senior center was submitted to the Planning Board this year, but the plan failed to garner enough votes for a special permit in early November. With four votes needed to pass, only three board members voted for the proposal. The two dissenters -- Neal Glick and vice-chair Sarah Preston -- cited concerns over traffic, drainage and parking lot issues.

However, planning board members said they will entertain a revised proposal that addresses their concerns, said Michael Zehner, the town's new planning director, last week.

"The Permanent Building Committee needs to consider if they want to revise the application, and do it in such a way that it will be a substantial change from what was originally proposed," Zehner said.

Town Meeting also voted to acquire a 5.59-acre piece of the Cochituate Aqueduct. Under the proposal, the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 9 west would pay the $223,000 to acquire the land from the state. The coffee chain's location would then keep about one-quarter of an acre for parking use, and donate the rest to the town, Larsen previously said.

Members also passed a measure allocating $35,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to continue planning the Fuller Brook Park restoration project, which entails cutting invasive species out of the park, renovating the banks of the brook, and other natural projects, Larsen previously said.

Special Town Meeting will continue Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the most expensive measure on the warrant: a proposal for the town to borrow $2.4 million to renovate Schofield and Fiske elementary schools over the summer.

"The schools need new windows, and they need to replace unit ventilators, which are parts of the HVAC systems integral to each classroom," Larsen said last week. "I wouldn't say the buildings are failing at the moment, but there are needs that need to be addressed."

The same measure also asks Town Meeting for $90,000 to study the renovation or replacement of John D. Hardy, Hunnewell and Upham elementary schools, and $75,000 to study redoing Wellesley Middle School's heating and ventilation system.

For more information, visit Wellesley's official website.

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Follow us on Twitter: @yourwellesley, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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