Wenham’s sole package store license is now a hot commodity – there are three local business that have expressed interest in holding the license.
The had held the license until December, . But the restaurant plans to reopen soon under new management and as part of that agreement, the Tea House is seeking a so-called “pouring license.” That proposal, which will require the state Legislature’s approval, first goes before a Special Town Meeting now scheduled for Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at .
On Tuesday night, though, the Wenham Board of Selectmen had to decide whether to expand the number of package store licenses held by the town plus decide which of the three businesses will get the single license.
, and have all expressed interest in the license. And town officials have simply sought a general letter of interest, versus a full application, because of the time and expense that can be involved in the complete application.
“The Selectmen have the ability to be somewhat subjective on this,” Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren said about its decision to grant the license.
Chelgren said Selectmen should look at traffic, potential crime, neighborhood impact and parking issues in considering the applications. Board Chairman Molly Martins also said she wants to hear from Chief Ken Walsh.
“We’ll be looking to him for some primary guidance,” Martins said.
Martins said that Grassy Roots and Nazir's would likely be similar to the Tea House, with alcohol being complimentray to what it already sells. Martins said Richdale would have a "traditional package store and approach."
Chelgren said two of the interested businesses – Grassy Roots and Richdale – “have been inquiring over time.”
Chelgren also said that the Board of Selectmen has said in the past that it would entertain the idea of issuing more liquor licenses, with an eye toward the town's two golf courses; and .
In the end, the board decided it will begin to determine which business will be assigned to single package store license now available when it meets next on Feb. 7, plus also determine whether it wants to pursue more licenses for the town.
“Is there any reason we would want more than one?” asked Selectman John Clemenzi.
Selectman Patrick Wilson said he wanted to make sure the Selectmen balance support of local businesses with any concerns expressed by the community.
He also noted that there are package store nearby in Beverly, Danvers and Hamilton.
“There’s package store on all of our borders,” he said.
If the decision is made to seek more license, it would go before Annual Town Meeting in May.