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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Ashland contemplates additional liquor licenses over its current cap Request could be on Nov. special town meeting warrant

By Theresa Knapp

Town officials started the process to request a total of 16 all-alcohol (on premises) licenses in the Town of Ashland. 

After a lengthy discussion at its Aug. 16 meeting, the Select Board directed Town Manager Michael Herbert to draft a warrant article (for the Nov. special town meeting) for further discussion. 

This request for a total of 16 licenses does not include retail sales of alcohol, but Select Board member Yolana Greaves noted the town has received a request for one additional retail license and asked if it made sense to combine the requests into one Home Rule Petition. “If it’s not going to impact it, I would say let’s see about moving forward with one more…all-alcohol retail.”

Herbert will research that issue. 

Select Board member Brandi Kinsman said her understanding from State Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis - who would ultimately present the Petition to state officials for approval - that “we should ask one time, take one bite at the apple.” 

Herbert said, “This is a Home Rule Petition so we can ask for anything, if we wanted to.” 

Kinsman said the town should be forward-thinking about the number of licenses it requests and not ask for too few, especially considering the amount of development going on in town and the realistic potential for additional licenses.  

Greaves added, “We need to have that potential growth,” noting the town’s Director of Economic Development and Community Outreach has businesses interested in locating in town but are leary because of the limited number of liquor licenses. 

Select Board Chair Richard Scherer suggested 16 licenses might be too many.

Select Board member Joseph Magnani, Jr., said that, if the town has the licenses, they need to be prepared to give them out or “you need to have a valid reason for not issuing them,” and cautioned about potential litigation. 

Herbert advised, “It’s probably better to have more and issue less than to be in a situation where people want more and you don’t have enough.” 

There was a suggestion by another town department that the licenses be dedicated to certain areas of town, but the board did not adopt that suggestion.  

After a Home Rule Petition is approved at town meeting, it would then go to Rep. Lewis to be put on the State House docket. That process, said Town Counsel Lisa Mead, “can take between eight months to two years.”