The finish line is now in sight in the quest for a so-called “pouring license” for the Wenham Tea House.
Last Thursday, the Senate bill authorizing the liquor license was passed and it now moves to the House of Representatives, where Wenham Town Administrator Mark Andrews said he anticipates few problems.
Andrews is expected to update the Wenham Board if Selectmen about the progress of the license when the board meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Wenham Town Hall.
Wenham held a Special Town Meeting in February to begin the process of a home rule petition for the license, which will go to Henry’s Fine Foods, which took over management of the Tea House in March. Voters unanimously approved the petition, which then started on Beacon Hill as a Senate bill. It also needs the OK of the House and Gov. Deval Patrick’s signature.
Previously, the Tea House had a package store license that was “anchored” to the location.
But last month, because that package store license was still assigned to the Tea House address as a Senate bill worked its way through the system to grant it a pouring license, Andrews said the bill required some “technical corrections” in order for the license to be properly granted.
“It is not possible to have two licenses at the same location,” Andrews said. “If the bill had passed for the (pouring) license, we would not have had either license.”
The bill that was passed by the Senate last week addresses those needed corrections, Andrews said. The package store license assigned to the Tea House since 2010 had to be removed before a pouring license could be assigned. In one stroke, the Senate bill does that, Andrews said.
In addition to moving the Wenham Tea House closer to having a pouring license, the bill also clears the way for the package store license to be assigned to a different business in town.
As the Wenham and state officials undertook the “technical corrections” needed to free up the package store license and grant the pouring license, those three businesses were told the process of assigning a package store license was being “suspended.”
Previously the Selectmen, after reviewing letters of intent from all three businesses, said they preferred that Grassy Roots get the license. But the owner of Richdale and his attorney submitted a completed, formal application. That meant that it was required to be reviewed by the Selectmen, who serve as the Licensing Board. That happened in April and there has been no final decision.
From here, Andrews said he has asked Town Counsel Paul Weaver to determine the next step for the Board of Selectmen in awarding the package store license. Since the process started and the package store license was not technically available, it could mean the process may need to start over, among other options.