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Selectmen: Get Your Home Rule Petitions in to Town Hall

A Special Town Meeting is set for Feb. 3. Selectmen encourage any new restaurants in town looking for an alcohol license to see if one will pass muster with Town Meeting voters.

Danvers Town Hall
Danvers Town Hall
If there are any business people in Danvers looking to acquire an alcohol license in the near future, they best get their petitions over to Town Hall next week.

The town doesn't currently have any full liquor or beer and wine restaurant licenses available, but licenses can be created by special legislation with backing from the town.

In light of the upcoming Special Town Meeting and due to the fact there were just four different entities before the Board of Selectmen vying for one beer and wine license, selectmen wished to spread the word that home rule petitions can be submitted to appear as warrant articles on Feb. 3.

A petition initiated by a citizen needs approval from selectmen to appear on the warrant and a vote from Town Meeting before it can be sent on to the State House for consideration.

A few alcohol licenses have been generated this way in recent years, infamously, in fact, in the case of Green Elephant Toys in the square. A home rule petition was initially sought by John Mammola for an Italian restaurant at 13 Elm St., but he eventually sought another location and the toy store moved into that space instead.

No one ever notified state lawmakers about the change in plans though and a new beer and wine license was finally approved for Mammola at 13 Elm St. in February 2012, months after the toy store opened.

Selectman Dave Mills raised the issue of creating more alcohol licenses at a recent meeting, commenting on neighboring Peabody's effort to acquire 10 licenses by home rule petition and wondering if Danvers might take the same route.

At the very least, he said, the new restaurants that didn't get a license last month and any other interested parties should be made aware they could seek a home rule petition.

Selectman Bill Clark noted both Sawasdee and McKinnon's got their alcohol licenses by special legislation and Chairman Gardner Trask said he actually asked Town Clerk Joe Collins to look into several issues relating to alcohol licenses and home rule petitions.

Trask said one topic he'd like more information on is the ability of a business to allow customers to bring their own alcohol to dinner as opposed to the business holding a regular alcohol license.

Clark said the town should look into making its own request to the state for a set of liquor licenses (possibly for May Town Meeting) and "keep an eye on Peabody" to see how that plays out.

"It certainly is to the benefit of the community," he said, noting he recently received a call from an entity on Route 114 about available licenses.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis said he'd like to finalize the Special Town Meeting Warrant with selectmen and have it closed at their Dec. 17 meeting.

The warrant needs to be posted by Jan. 20 and the last board meeting prior to that is Jan. 7. The Special Town Meeting Feb. 3 will be at Danvers High.

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