On Hold:‘Real Discussion’ Unfolds Regarding Small Liquor Bottles, Special Meeting Aug 28

June 29, 2018
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The Chelsea Licensing Commission has put on hold the ban of small liquor bottles (100 ml) after a hearing Tuesday night where numerous package store owners from the City came forward to protest the change.

The hearing came on the heels of the ban of “nip” bottles last month, with Chelsea being the first municipality to ban the sale of the one-shot bottles of liquor. That was to be followed up with the potential ban of small liquor bottles too. However, Chair Mark Rossi said the strong turnout from the liquor licensees in the City caused the Board to pause.

“They told us this would essentially put them out of business,” said Rossi. “The sales of small liquor bottles have been up since the ban on nips and the liquor stores were supplementing the lost income from nips with the 100 ml bottles. The positive on this is there was actually a dialog. This is the first time that has happened. Chelsea is the first municipality that has pub in a ban on nips. Based on that, it showed the community is serious about this issues. All parties considered this a problem.”

He said about half of the 16 package store license holders were at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

The result is the ban has been put on hold, but a special meeting has been called for Aug. 28 and a voluntary ban has been called for.

“We are calling a special meeting to address this and pick up where we left off,” Rossi said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this.”

He said the liquor license holders were asked as a show of good faith to meet with the Police Department and voluntarily ban 100 ml bottles (particularly McCormack’s and Ruble) within 30 days. While the License Commission rarely meets in the summer, Rossi said they would call the special meeting for an update, with the hope being the ban can work informally.

Police Chief Brian Kyes said he is still for the ban, but was encouraged by the willingness of the liquor license holders during the meeting.

“Although the Chelsea Police strongly encourages the commission to proceed with the ban as proposed, I am encouraged that these licensed businesses are engaged in dialogue with the commission, the community and understanding their role in this serious issue,” he said. “Moving forward, we will continue to focus enforcement on any business that violates City licensing rules and state law, especially those that have such an adverse effect on the community.”

But not all was lost in the matter, which is an issue pushed by residents and several city councilors, including Councilor Roy Avellaneda.

Rossi said it was impressed on the liquor license holders that they need to be more connected to the community. He said it was interesting to note that none of them were as involved as they thought they were – particularly in things like the Chamber of Commerce or the local non-profits.

“The idea is we’re not looking to push anyone out of business, but to address a systemic, decades-old problem everyone agrees exists in Chelsea,” he said. “This is a positive step forward to address that issue…It’s important liquor store owners realize they are members of the community and aware of their actions on others. No one wants to go to the hair salon next to a liquor store where they have to step over the urine-soaked body of a perons passed out in the doorway.”