Planning Board Okays Efforts to Add Controls for Alcohol

The Planning Board met on Tuesday and gave a positive recommendation to one new proposal from City Manager Jay Ash that looks to tighten up planning efforts for convenience stores and supermarkets that sell alcohol.

The Board recommended that the City Council approve the measure with one modification. That modification included separating convenience stores from supermarkets, and taking language that read “other alcohol” out of the convenience store category.

The matter will now go to the Council for consideration, and could be adopted as an ordinance.

The effort looks to require special permits and provide for all-out prohibitions for such stores that sell beer, wine and alcohol and have hours that exceed 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. If any store does exceed that threshold, Ash said he would like to see more scrutiny in terms of neighborhood planning.

Already, such entities must get licenses from the License Commission, but Ash said that body doesn’t have the ability to look at the issue in terms of neighborhood planning.

“As convenience stores start to get more into the selling of alcohol, it changes the character of the street and neighborhood and the traffic patterns in those neighborhoods,” Ash said recently. “They could really cause traffic to bump up a lot on a Friday or Saturday…It seems like every convenience store I go by now has a sign out that says they’re selling beer and wine. We spend a lot of time trying to upgrade our neighborhoods and we would like to have the ability to review these stores as they expand their businesses.”

In other Planning Board news:

•The long-awaited Eastern Minerals project at the old Coastal Oil Farm was recommended by the Board for its most recent modifications. The modifications concerned an upgrade of the office building facility and some changes to the parking configuration. If approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), it will allow the project to move forward and begin demolition of the old oil tanks on the site.

•The Board recommended that the ZBA approve a project on Everett Avenue that would locate a dentist office into a three-family that is now abandoned.

•An 8 Wesley St. business was approved to add a second floor to its existing operations. The extra space would be used for offices.

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