Photo: Licenses will be coming back the town.
Belmont Town Meeting members will be presented with a new prohibitory retail and restaurant liquor license transfer bylaw after the Board of Selectmen approved the language in the article on Monday, Feb. 13.
But due to delays on Beacon Hill in setting up legislative committees needed to take up and approve Belmont’s home rule petition, the Selectmen will have to wait until the first night of the annual Town Meeting, May 1, before presenting the article for a vote before the assemblage.
The Selectmen rushed to make changes to the licensing laws after a full liquor retail license issued to the owner of The Loading Dock was transferred in October 2016 for a $400,000 “fee” to supermarket chain Star Market which has created a large beer, wine and liquor department in its Waverley Square store.
With the help of Belmont’s elected state officials, state Rep. Dave Rogers and state Sen. Will Brownsberger, the town was able to get “a feeling” if the legislature would be amenable to Belmont’s request to tighten the rules on the transferability. All cities and towns are required to petition the legislature on alcohol matters who have the last word on changes.
On Monday, the Selectmen approved the more prohibitive of two versions, requiring the licenses to come back to the town if a business is sold or relocates. If a business moves to another site, it would be required to return the license and reapply for it.
The second version would have allowed the business to transfer a license only after being in operation for three years.
“That would show the license has value to the business,” said Paolillo.
But in the end, the board wanted the town to have maximum control over who can obtain a license.
“I want the most restrictive one,” said Selectmen Chair Mark Paolillo, who commented that Town Meeting would have ample opportunity to “ease” the impact of the article if it chooses.
An earlier pledge by the Board to hold a Special Town Meeting as early as February to pass the new bylaw fell to the wayside as Town Administrator David Kale said even if the town’s governing body voted in favor of the article, the legislature wouldn’t take it up for a vote until May at the earliest.