The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ferns asks for town alcohol carry-in policy

Should Carlisle have a bylaw allowing people to bring alcoholic beverages to public meeting places? That idea is just in the discussion stages by the Selectmen right now. Ferns proprietor Larry Bearfield has hired attorney Dave Galvin, Carlisle’s former police chief, to investigate the issue. The two appeared before the Selectmen on June 8 to share information gathered on the issue.

Bearfield noted that having a place to “gather and socialize” and a “pub in town” often appears on town surveys. He believes that the town should have a policy in place, covering not only Ferns but other meeting places which serve food such as churches. Rather than “reinvent the wheel,” Galvin is reviewing information from other towns with regulations and bylaws in place such as Acton, Groton and West Boylston.

“We are not voting on this tonight,” said Board of Selectmen Chair John Williams. He reiterated “Right now, I want to learn as much as we can.” He believed the group needs to better understand if there is a need to establish a policy and the possible stakeholders.

Attorney Galvin clarified that “establishments” mentioned in the documentation from other towns referred to non-government entities and not residences. In Carlisle, Williams identified Ferns and churches as possible sites that would have interest in a carry-in policy. He wanted to understand what is currently going on at churches which have permits to serve food.

Ferns emerges as focus

“Would you consider this [carry-in policy] at Ferns to be an intensification of use?” asked Williams.

“No,” answered Bearfield. He cited the indoor seating, food on site, parking and traffic plans, as well as training employees have gone through to protect venues and patrons alike at facilities which sell alcohol.

“I don’t agree with the answer,” said Williams. “We’re going to have alcohol consumed within the premises, and then people backing into a rotary of a public highway.”

Bearfield quickly interjected “backing onto Lowell Street.” He added that as part of the recent site review plan Ferns had already eliminated parking spots closest to the rotary.

Williams continued that the distinction between a package store and a restaurant is a critical issue. He envisioned people going through one door at Ferns to “buy a bottle” and then “through the other door” to drink it.

“Isn’t freedom of choice wonderful?” responded Bearfield. He explained that patrons buying food to eat at Ferns could bring in alcoholic beverages they had purchased elsewhere.

Selectman John Gorecki noted that he would like to ultimately see a full “policy like Acton’s,” a town with a four-page bylaw. Selectman Bill Tice said he would prefer something clear and simple. Williams said he would like to hear from the churches and other organizations to gather more information prior to discussing the item again. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito