20 Aug 2014
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Richdale Liquor License to Be Considered First

The Wenham Board of Selectmen said it was the board's preference for a package store liquor license to go to Grassy Roots, but on Tuesday night will hear first from Richdale, which was the first to file a complete application.

Richdale Liquor License to Be Considered First

The attorney for in Wenham said Monday he’s not sure what to expect from the Board of Selectmen when it considers a package store liquor license for the store on Tuesday night.

In February, the Board of Selectmen to because its plans to use the license align most closely to the initial intentions of the license when approved by Town Meeting voters.

Before expressing its preference, the board had asked the three businesses hoping for a license to submit an “expression of interest,” according to Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren. From there, the board determined the plan from Grassy Roots most aligned with the intention of the town’s only license, which was granted through a petition process through the state Legislature.

The license became available after the former operator of the , Emma Roberts, . She had a package store license where wine was sold from a small portion of the Tea House. The new operator, Henry’s Fine Foods, and . The process now moves on to the state Legislature.

When , Richdale’s owners filed a complete application, which requires the Board of Selectmen – acting as the Licensing Board – to consider the application.

“I don’t know about the dynamics going on with the preference (expressed by the Board of Selectmen) for the other business,” said Richdale’s attorney Tom Truax. “We filed our application first and they need to address it."

Truax said he has not spoken with town officials about how they plan to handle the Richdale license on Tuesday night, after expressing support for the Grassy Roots plan. He has asked neighbors that support the license to show up at the 7 p.m. hearing at to voice support for the application.

Neither Chelgren nor Molly Martins, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, could be reached for comment on Monday. It is unclear how the board plans to deal with the Richdale application, in light of the board’s preference for Grassy Roots.

The idea behind the Selectmen’s plan to have businesses’ submit short plans, Chelgren said previously, was to avoid having two applicants going through the complete application process only to be rejected. The process set up by town officials, and agreed on by the three business, was “not really an application” process, Chelgren said. The third business interested in the license was .

The plan for Richdale calls for devoting three of six doors in a cooler to beer and wine, with the possibility for a small area nearby for warm beer and wine.

“It’s really a modest proposal,” said Truax from his Salem office. “They said they do not want a Kappy’s and this is certainly not a Kappy’s.”

There is an article on the Annual Town Meeting warrant for May asking voters to approve authorizing the Board of Selectmen to grant two more package store licenses.

When Selectmen expressed its preference for Grassy Roots, Selectman Patrick Wilson said in February that he was being asked to “pick winners and losers in the commercial enterprise universe for our town.” That was not something he favored. Instead, he suggested he would like to see “all three of these establishments have a license if they are found to be in compliance with town policy.”

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