Jul 29, 2014

Sharon Stays Empty on Package Store Licenses

Annual town meeting proposal gets shot down Monday night.

Sharon Stays Empty on Package Store Licenses

Sharon won't license package stores.

Voters at Monday night's annual town meeting defeated a proposal, 112 for to 125 against, after raising concerns about encouraging underage drinking and preserving Sharon's character.

"I think it's important to keep that visual characteristic of the town," resident Alice Cheyer said in the auditorium.

"I think having package stores here moves in the wrong direction."

The board of selectmen asked voters to allow it to file a home rule petition with the Legislature for up to six all-alcohol sales licenses among Sharon Commons, Route 1, Shaw's Plaza, Sharon Heights Plaza and Post Office Square. The businesses in Post Office Square and Sharon Heights Plaza would have been required to maintain their food store component.

Voters had amended the original proposal moments earlier. The original proposal called for up to four licenses and did not include Post Office Square and Sharon Heights Plaza. The owners of , in the square, and , in the plaza, met with selectmen and the finance committee this spring to express concern about not being allowed to compete for the licenses. Both have beer and wine licenses.

"This (six) is more liquor than we need," said resident Joel Lessard, who chairs the finance committee.

"This town is deficient in a few areas. Liquor is not one of them."

Resident Gordon Gladstone said his children once bought penny candy at what's now Sharon Market.

The store is now a package store, he said.

"That is progress," Gladstone said.

Resident Steve Dagle said he moved to town 20 years ago and was attracted by its "quaintness, the ambience."

"We don't need package stores on our street corners where our kids hang out," Dagle said.

Resident Roberta Saphire noted that Sharon Market and Bread 'N' Butter have beer and wine licenses.

"All you're doing is giving them the right to compete," Saphire said.

Resident Len Segal said Sharon was "supposedly a dry town" when he moved here, yet he frequently had to "pick up beer cans off my lawn."

"It was a pretty wet dry town," he said.

Resident Richard Kramer questioned voting on the amended version without notifying the Post Office Square and Sharon Heights Plaza neighbors.

The neighbors "might feel that they've been treated unfairly," Kramer said.

One resident said that "people are going to go and buy their alcohol wherever they can find it, as close as possible."

Resident Steve Ross called alcohol a "toxic substance" that causes health issues.

"It is not supposed to be too easily attainable on every street corner," said Ross, who said he has practiced internal medicine in Sharon for 35 years.

Resident Hilary Maguire said she favored allowing licenses, mostly to allow Sharon businesses to compete with those in neighboring towns.

"I don't think package stores or liquor stores define us as a town," Maguire said.

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