The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 27, 2006


Ferns granted liquor license, plans to expand

The Carlisle Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 at their January 24 meeting to approve an application for a license to sell wine and beer at Ferns Country Store. Carlisle residents Robin Emerson and Larry Bearfield of Carlisle Center Ventures, LLC, who assumed ownership of Ferns in December 2003, plan to expand the store to include the adjacent garage in order to handle the added wine and beer sales. Under details of the agreement, Ferns can't begin selling beer and wine until construction is complete. Taking into account the time needed for site plan approval and store construction, the one-year license could conceivably expire by the time the new facilities are ready.

The license takes effect as soon as the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission gives its approval, which should be within seven days after the Selectmen's vote. A one-year clock then begins to run as Bearfield draws up building plans and prepares to go before the Planning Board. None of these obstacles seemed to bother Bearfield when he appeared before the Selectmen at a January 24 public hearing. Bearfield plans to sell beer and wine from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. "Sales can be shut off on Sunday," he said. Assuming the annual license will be renewed when the time comes, "I'm confident we can meet the law."

Bearfield unrolled his proposed site plan on the head table as members of the audience crowded around to see what was in store for the town center. Shown on the plan is a new building linking the main store with the adjacent garage. The garage area will house a self-contained wine and beer salesroom, while the link building features an expanded grocery section extending around in back of the garage. "Part of the existing store will be converted into a sit-down café with 25 seats," said Bearfield. "A place for people looking for a place to meet — assuming we can resolve any Title V [septic system] issues."

As Bearfield spoke, the Clark Room continued to fill with people. One after another of the townspeople got up to speak in support of Bearfield and his expansion plans. Laura Baliestiero of Berry Corner Lane, referring to her real estate clients and their first impression of the rural town center, called Bearfield "our Chamber of Commerce." Ralph Anderson of Baldwin Road added his support and suggested to Bearfield that he name his expanded store "This Old Keg."

Dave Robbins of Laurelwood Drive voiced his support and believes the expanded store will benefit the town. "These folks do well," he said. 'I trust them." Steve Pearlman of Baldwin Road figured that he should be the most worried regarding the sale of alcohol. "I have a 15-year-old, but I have a great deal of trust and respect for Bearfield. Those underage will not get alcohol."

When it became obvious that there was no opposition in the room, Selectman Tony Allison turned the discussion to more mundane matters. "Will you have wine tastings?" (Yes) "Will you offer discounts?" (Laughter). Selectman Hult wondered what would happen if the business were sold, to which Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie answered that the new owner would have to repeat the approval process.

Selectman John Williams then moved that the Board approve the application of Carlisle Center Ventures, LLC, Ferns Country Store, for an off-premise liquor license to sell wine and malt beverages contingent on the construction of a facility substantially similar to the plans presented, and members responded with an unanimous 5-0 vote. Hult expressed appreciation to Bearfield and Emerson for the manner in which they have conducted themselves through the entire new and unfamiliar approval process.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito