Licensing Commission Looks at Process to Grant New Liquor Licenses

With up to six new on-site liquor licenses expected to come the city’s way, the Chelsea Licensing Commission is looking at ways to make sure a diverse array of businesses have a fair shot at those potential licenses.

The additional liquor licenses would be the result of Chelsea’s population growth in the 2020 US Census.

“We’re looking at how to get variety, diversity, and to different areas of Chelsea,” said City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher. “So we’ve proposed to do this as an RFP (request for proposals), meaning everybody brings in applications as opposed to a first-come, first-serve basis where some people would hear about it sooner than others.”

Fisher presented a draft of the RFP process to the Licensing Commission last month. The commission is expected to take a closer look at it before taking a potential vote on the process at its February meeting.

Night clubs are not allowed in Chelsea, so Fisher said the on-site licenses would be for restaurants or bars.

By going through an RFP process, Fisher said the city can help bring a greater diversity of restaurant types and ownership to the city.

“We want to be able to … let everybody know that anyone thinking of a brick and mortar restaurant or bar that this is out there and available to them and it’s not $50,000, which is what some people are selling them for,” said Fisher. “We want everyone to be able to come purchase liquor licenses from the city.”

Fisher said the census numbers have to be finalized before Chelsea officially knows how many additional liquor licenses it will be getting.

Once the liquor licenses do become available, Fisher said it would likely be a month or two process to allow applications to come in and be reviewed by the Licensing Commission.

Licensing Commissioner Marnie MacAlpine said she wanted to make sure there is enough time given to spread the word about the application process.

“If the whole point of this is to diversify and make sure we are getting a good mix of businesses in the city, we want to make sure there is enough time for people to put together a good proposal to get to us for review, and it’s not just people who are catching wind of this early,” said MacAlpine.

Fisher said the final application process will also include questions about job creation, location, description of the business, and noise control measures.

“We’re just thinking of some new ideas to better our quality of life around these restaurants and bars,” said Fisher.

Chelsea Police Captain Keith Houghton said the new RFP process will be an effective measure to help prevent phantom transfers, where a liquor license is basically transferred to a new company that still has the same ownership as the previous license holder.

“I think this can transform the city greatly,” said Houghton.

Licensing Commission Chair Emily Cherniack asked if the RFP process would be used for current licenses that become available.

“If we get a new one, it could be up to you to have an RFP if it is not transferred to someone,” said Fisher. “Nine times out of 10 in Chelsea, they find a buyer.”

In other business, the commission approved the request of GreenStar Herbals on Beacham Street to do away with the appointment requirement for its retail marijuana business.

Houghton noted that there is ample parking on site and there have not been issues with traffic related to the business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *