Town seeks more liquor license authority

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Westborough – Under the Board of Selectmen’s direction, Town Manager Jim Malloy has begun the process that would remove the sunset provision of the state laws that govern the number of liquor licenses the town may distribute.

The board made its request of Malloy at its Nov. 24 meeting.

Should the town ultimately decide to remove the provision, the responsibility of authorizing and issuing over-quota liquor licenses would come under the town’s purview.

“In reviewing the records of past Town Meetings, it seems like every year there is a warrant article that seeks to add an over-quota liquor license or to change an existing overquota license,” Malloy said. “I was aware that there was a state statute giving communities the opportunity to exempt itself from the quota system and for Westborough the sunset provision was in 1984.”

Malloy said he believes the removal of the sunset provision would have to be agreed to by the legislature and then by Town Meeting voters.

“If the town decided to remove the provision it would not only give us some additional flexibility,” Malloy said, “but it would also free up the legislature.

“I know one of the benefits of having the flexibility that comes with issuing liquor licenses locally,” the town manager explained, “is you have a better chance of getting some of the nicer restaurants to come to town. I’ve been told there are some restaurants who decided not to try and locate here because there weren’t any liquor licenses available.”

The number of all-alcohol pouring licenses Westborough is permitted to distribute currently is based on population. With a population of 18,000, Westborough is allowed 18 on-premise, all-alcohol pouring licenses, five on-premise wine-andmalt (beer) licenses, four all-alcohol package store licenses, and five wine-and-mlt package store licenses.

According to Maryanne Bilodeau, Westborough’s assistant town manager, there are currently 25 on-premise, all-alcohol pouring licenses, eight wine-and-malt licenses, five all-alcohol package store licenses and three wine-andmalt package store licenses in use in the town.

In the instances that the town has exceeded the number of licenses it is permitted to issue based on population, Bilodeau said, the town successfully petitioned the state legislature for approval.

Malloy said he is in the process of contacting local legislators to get their opinions on how to proceed on this matter as well as determining if the town would need legislation filed on the state level or if a local law could be created to allow the approval over over-quota licenses.