Westborough Planning Board supports warrant article amending alcohol bylaws

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By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer

Westborough town iconWESTBOROUGH – The Westborough Planning Board voted 5-0 at a meeting on Oct. 5 to support a warrant article for the upcoming Oct. 18 town meeting that would amend town bylaws regarding alcoholic beverages. 

The warrant article would create exceptions to the town’s bylaws prohibiting consumption of alcohol in town buildings and property as well as in public ways and public parks. It would then give the Select Board the ability to authorize permits allowing for alcohol consumption in these contexts. 

Members of the Planning Board described the article as particularly important because it encourages outdoor dining by allowing restaurants to obtain permits to serve alcohol outside.

“I think it’s important to support this because I think the margins on owning a restaurant are very minimal and, during COVID, it’s been difficult for these kinds of businesses,” said Planning Board member Peter Bouchard. “So, anything like this that can help these businesses stay afloat, I think it’s important.”

Town Planner Jim Robbins added that the article supports the goals of the recently approved town master plan, which encourages outdoor dining as well as storefront displays and sales of products. 

“Alcohol served outside the premises also requires approval from the Board of Selectmen, so this warrant article gives the Board of Selectmen that authority,” Robbins said. “Currently, they do not have that authority.”

The Planning Board also recommended that Article 20, part of which allows for and imposes requirements on off-premise digital billboards, be referred back to the Planning Board from the town meeting for further study.

The board voted to do so after Planning Board Chairman Mark Silverberg read a letter written by attorney Joseph R. Jenkins, representing Clear Channel Outdoor, a media advertising company.