Selectmen OK New Restrictive Bylaw on Liquor License Transfers

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. 

Brighton Street’s Loading Dock Lands Full-Liqour License … with Conditions

Citing a chance to bring economic development to Brighton Street, the Belmont Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a full liquor license to The Loading Dock at 11 Brighton St. during a public meeting held before 90 residents and applicants at the Beech Street Center last night, Thursday, May 1.

“This is what I wanted for the store since I [first] arrived seven years ago,” said The Loading Dock’s owner and Belmont resident Faud Nicolas Mukarker after the vote.

Mukarker beat out applications from Waltham-based D&L Liquors and the Craft Beer Cellar of Belmont Center for the coveted full-liqour license, the only one to be presented.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen; (from left) Mark Paolillo, Andy Rojas and Sami Baghdady.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen; (from left) Mark Paolillo, Andy Rojas and Sami Baghdady.

While granting the license, the Selectmen placed a number of conditions on their approval, the most significant is that Mukarker must end the sale of tobacco and lottery tickets at the location as he transforms it into an “international bistro and cafeteria,” according to the Park Road resident.

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 10.12.36 AM

Drawings of the proposed beer, wine and liquor area in an anticipated renovated The Loading Dock on Brighton Street.

In addition, the store can not sell individual cans of beer or “nips” – a tiny taster bottle of liquor usually 50 milliliters which is about a shot of liquor – employees must under go training on controlling sales to minors, the portion of the store reserved for liquor can not exceed 750 square feet and the business must hold a certification of occupancy from the town when the long-anticipated renovation of the site is completed. 

Mukarker said he will complete renovations at the site – which is another condition the Board is requiring of the owner before he can operate with the license – by August, dedicating between 500- to 750-square feet (about a third of the store’s footprint) to beer, wine and liquor.

In a separate vote, the Board declined an application for a wine and beer license to LC Variety on Trapelo Road due to space, cleanliness and management issues.

The native of Jerusalem left a position at Fleet Bank to become the manager of the then-White Hen Pantry at the location in 2006 before buying the location in 2011.