Needham steps toward alcohol sales
Needham voters will decide whether to allow liquor stores in town, after Town Meeting members voted this month to put the question on a townwide ballot.
But first the proposal has to be approved by the Legislature. It is hard to predict how long the home rule petition process will take, according to the town manager’s office.
Needham’s current liquor regulations prohibit the sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption. The town is not completely dry: Restaurants with 100 or more seats are allowed to have full liquor licenses, and smaller restaurants are allowed beer and wine licenses. The Sheraton runs the only bar in town.
The proposed changes to the liquor laws would allow package stores in Needham. The town would be allowed six liquor licenses, with an additional two in 2018. No more than six at a time would be permitted to sell all alcohol.
During the Town Meeting discussion, some members noted that residents can simply drive to the next town to purchase alcohol, or go to a restaurant to have a drink.
The town regularly grants one-day liquor licenses for special events. The shock of allowing a liquor store to operate, other residents said, would not be as great as opponents fear.
“Some of us may believe there is a certain quaint cachet to living in a dry town,” said Selectman Moe Handel. “The reality is that Needham has not been a dry town for many years, and has managed that change over time.”
Other members were deeply opposed, worried that allowing liquor stores in Needham would increase crime, teenage drinking, and alcoholism.
“I find it rather troublesome that the rationale to sell more liquor in Needham is because our youth have no problem getting it in surrounding towns,” said Catherine Kurkjian. “If our children have no problem going to surrounding towns to get more liquor, I don’t see why adults have to go down the block to get theirs.”
Ultimately, Town Meeting sided with the argument that everyone in town, not just elected members, should get a chance to vote. on it, and approved sending the proposal to Beacon Hill.
Town Meeting also supported a citizens petition to call on urging state legislators to push for a constitutional amendment that would to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision on campaign spending by corporations. , which gave allows corporations, unions, and nonprofits organizations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.
Foster said he had polled his neighbors and found them split on the alcohol licenses.Town Meeting’s role, member Reginald Foster said, is to speak for the people, and, in this case, the people should speak for themselves.
“I will vote in favor of this motion,” Foster said, “not because I have an opinion on it one way or the other, but because I think it is our role here.”
Town officials painted a rosy picture of Needham’s current economic climate, and the town The session also passed a $117.7 million budget for next fiscal year. the fiscal year starting July 1.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.