Deadlocked Selectmen "Effectively" Deny Package Store License Transfer

With one member absent, selectmen voted 2-2 twice Monday night.

With Selectman Jeff Amberson absent, Northborough selectmen deadlocked Monday night over transferring Reliant Beer and Wine Inc.'s wine and malt package store license transfer to a businessman planning to sell a small amount of pipes and paraphernalia that could be used for smoking marijuana.

Selectmen voted twice -- first regarding denying the request, then regarding approving it. Each vote ended 2-2, with Chairman Leslie Rutan and Vice Chairman opposing the transfer. and Selectmen William Pantazis and Aaron Hutchins supporting it with conditions.

Attorney Michael O'Neil, representing applicant Kabir Saheb Inc., owned by Jack Patel and his wife, wasn't willing to continue the public hearing until the next selectmen's meeting, when a full board could be present.

"The applicant is not willing to continue the matter at this point," said O'Neil said.

"If the motion doesn't pass, it's effectively a denial."

Town Administrator John Coderre said O'Neil's client has the right to appeal the board's decision to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

The Patels want to open the One Stop Beer Wine and Cigar store at 293 West Main St., where a fire in July 2012 is suspected to have started in a back storage room, created smoke that caused significant damage.

Selectmen opened their public hearing on the license transfer request two weeks ago.

At that time, Northborough Police Detective Sgt. Brian Griffin said in talking with Jack Patel, "Mr. Patel did admit he was planning to sell a small percentage of marijuana pipes in the store."

Police, and some selectmen, expressed concern about this. Selectmen continued their hearing until Monday night to give Coderre and town counsel time to discuss the matter with O'Neil.

O'Neil said Monday night that Northborough Police are concerned about glass pipes proposed for sale in the shop, "labelled for tobacco use only in a small display in the rear of the store."

Pantazis said it was "up to the Northborough Police Department" to decide if selling the pipes violates state law.

Coderre said town counsel has advised selectmen of two options: to approve the license transfer "with qualifying language putting the applicant on notice that these pipes and paraphernalia shall be monitored by the police department, and that any violations of Mass. General Law will be investigated and pursued by the ttown and the police department"; or deny the license, and specifically cite Patel's comments to Griffin.

Police Chief Mark Leahy said that "you begin to wonder what's more important whether it's the alcohol license or the ability to sell pipes. Because apparently, the applicant has more than just a passing interest in having this for sale in this small case in the back of his store, and is apparently willing to even potentially jeopardize the issuance of the license."

Police are watching a similar case in Framingham to "see what guidance we get from the courts," Leahy said.

Prometheus December 03, 2013 at 08:00 AM
And what shall we do with empty business?
Robert Norgard December 03, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Great move Selectmen. Too many issues open ended. Our police chief has some very strong concers. No, don't put the burden on the police chief. Nip it in the bud as they did and send them back to the drawing board. Sorry that a couple of our selectmen still don't get it.
Aaron Hutchins December 04, 2013 at 07:26 AM
The Board of Selectmen have no legal authority to deny the transfer of a liquor license based on the sale of an unrelated product that may or may not be used for marijuana. This denial only ensures tax payer dollars expended on legal fees defending against an appeal, which the applicant will probably make, and which will do nothing to prevent the board's denial from being overturned. The only thing to "get" is an understanding of the limits of the board's legal authority.
James A. Vander Poel December 04, 2013 at 08:02 AM
Thank you, Aaron. You were the only one who understood on the first vote. The police enforce the existing laws, they don't get to make them, and their opinions are simply opinions. We've just seen the board act as if they have an unlimited supply of funds. I, for one, would rather see the money spent on sorely needed road maintenance than legal fees.
Robert Norgard December 04, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Selectmens opinions are very important but more important is the opinion of the police chief. The people elected these officials and I as do many citizens value their input. Their are some officials that need to remember who elected them.
James A. Vander Poel December 05, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Wrong on two counts. We do not elect the police chief, and his opinion is no more important than that of any other citizen.
Robert Norgard December 05, 2013 at 02:53 PM
James, your right on the first point. Your wrong in my mind on the second point. I have lived in this town for close to 70 years and I as do many people value the police chiefs opinion.
Prometheus December 05, 2013 at 02:55 PM
You may value it, you may live by it, but to determine the path another man's life takes by it is wrong and illegal.
Robert Norgard December 05, 2013 at 03:02 PM
It is great tha in Ameria we all have our opinions and we also have a right to protest against wrong doings even if we have to gather several town people to stand with signs in front of their business to express peoples opinion. That isn't going to look good having people in front of a establishment conveying their opinion.


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