20 Aug 2014
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'No Rush' In Deciding on Wenham's Only Package Store License

The Wenham Board of Selectmen will take its time in deciding which one of three businesses will get the town's only package store license.

'No Rush' In Deciding on Wenham's Only Package Store License

There’s no deadline to decide, so the Wenham Board of Selectmen will take their time in deciding which business will be given .

The had held the license, but when the restaurant there closed in December the Tea House gave up the license. The Tea House is now seeking a pouring license for its yet-to-be-announced new tenant and the first step in that process will be a vote next Wednesday, Feb. 15, at a .

“We have one application available,” said Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren, referring to the newly open package store license.

Three businesses have expressed interest in holding the license – , and .

In the end, Selectmen have asked Chelgren to get in touch with the three applicants and ask for a written narrative describing, in further detail, the plans for using the license. Those narratives will be presented to the Board of Selectmen when it meets on Feb. 21.

“I’d like to get a little bit better understanding of what they want to do,” said Molly Martins, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Later, Martins said the board would discuss the issue during “many future meetings” with opportunities for the public to speak.

Chelgren said there is no deadline for selectmen to make the decision. The town will not lose the license if there’s no immediate decision, he said.

“There's no rush in this process; We have plenty of time to think this through carefully,” Selectman Patrick Wilson said. “There is no clock ticking.”

The first step for Selectmen will be to actually give all three businesses informal feedback about the likelihood of which business would succeed with an application, since “it is a very length (application) process,” Chelgren said.

Chief Ken Walsh provided Selectmen with some things to think about as they consider the three interested businesses. He suggested they look to Topsfield – a formerly “dry town” that several years ago handed out a package store license.

Topsfield created a rules and regulation manual that he said establishes a standard of evaluation for applicants and addresses just about all the issues and considerations that come up in issuing a liquor license.

Walsh also suggested that Selectmen consider the impact of a business selling beer and wine.

“The big thing I would look at is what is it going to bring to the town of Wenham?” Walsh said, noting that the Tea House is good for the town and had a long history of working with the town.

If an applicant is within 500 feet of a school or church – Nazir’s is next door to the and Grassy Roots is essentially across the street – it would require a special public hearing to ”make sure everyone is happy with the arrangement,” Walsh said.

Walsh also suggested that Chelgren invite a staff member from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission come to town to go over the package store license procedure.

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