Needham voters could be deciding as early as this November whether to allow wine and beer to be sold at local shops.
The Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 on Tuesday, July 10 to place the issue on the Nov. 6 Presidential Election ballot, contingent upon timely approval of the town's petition to the State Legislature.
The home rule petition by a two-thirds vote at Needham’s on Wednesday, May 9 and forwarded to the State Legislature for review. If approved by the legislature, and then at the local ballot box, the measure would allow selectmen to issue up to six licenses for retail sale of wine, beer or all alcohol in Needham, with two additional licenses, for a maximum of eight, allowed by 2018.
Selectmen said Tuesday that they felt it was important to put the issue before as many voters as possible and that the would likely draw more people than a Town Election. (About 25 percent of the town's registered voters showed up to the polls , with just 14 percent voting at the Town Election the year prior.)
Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick said the state could decide that the November ballot was already too full and ask the town to delay voting on the alcohol sales issue until the spring.
Fitzpatrick said she had heard from legislators that the town-initiated home rule petitions were moving through the House and that they could be resolved by the end of the summer.
In their motion, selectmen noted that if the State Legislature did not approve the petition in time to make it on the November ballot, the item would be pushed back to the April 2013 Town Election.
More from the meeting: A large portion of Tuesday's selectmen's meeting included a public information session on NSTAR's plans for along its power distribution lines, located in the public right of way. Look for coverage of the session, including comments from residents and selectmen, soon on Needham Patch.