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POLL: Another Public Hearing on Alcohol Issue?

Should selectmen give residents another chance to weigh in on a proposed lifting of the town's retail alcohol sales ban before the May 7 annual Town Meeting?

At their , Needham selectmen debated whether residents should get another chance to weigh in on the matter of allowing retail alcohol sales before the May 7 annual Town Meeting.

An article on the meeting warrant, if approved, would submit a home rule petition to the state legislature that would enable the town to issue up to eight all-alcohol or wine and beer store licenses. The matter then would return to voters for a town-wide referendum at an upcoming election.

Selectman Moe Handel said Tuesday that there would be many opportunities for public input before the referendum, including Planning Board hearings on zoning changes as that board considers where to allow wine and beer shops in town.

But Selectman John Bulian said he felt the public should get another chance to consider the specific article language after only debating the overall issue .

So what do you think? Should selectmen hold another public hearing on the retail alcohol sales article before the May 7 vote? Take the poll below and add your comments at the bottom of the page.

Got more to say? Letters to the Editor can be submitted to becca.manning@patch.com. Please limit to 500 words and include your full name and address in the e-mail.

peter March 15, 2012 at 04:46 PM
As a Retail Consultant, I see no reason not to allow liquor stores in Needham. It is not just The recession that has caused the continuance of empty stores in our town. Let's find a reason for new retail to occupy the empty spaces and stop finding reason to deny occupancy. Economic development has great plans for our industrial parks; historic buffs have their meeting hall in our beautiful town hall; It is now time to focus on our retail community. An anchor store in town just celebrated 40 years in business despite big box store competition (big box stores are now reducing their sizes) and "lack" of parking (same complaints in Wellesley, Newton Centre, Coolidge Corner, Harvard Square, ETC). WE need a stronger mix of stores in town, each of which needs to entice customers into Needham with a fresh assortment of merchandise.
Catherine Kurkjian March 18, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The dedicated individuals involved with the Substance Abuse Coalitions work tirelessly to educate youth about the dangers of alcohol; hence, we must work together so as not to jeopardize those efforts. Allowing the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, where children shop with parents and teens will be bagging the many bottles of alcohol sold, would be at odds with this message and is why it is important that alcohol sales be limited to liquor stores. Given that 76% of residents indicated in a recent poll that they would vote to allow retail alcohol sales in Needham; rather than debating yes or no, the focus needs to be directed to the ramifications of lifting the ban. Selectman Bulian’s suggestion above to provide an opportunity for residents, retailers, and decision makers to be engaged in another public hearing to consider the specific article language would provide an environment more conducive to evaluating the options and making sure that the concerns of all involved will be addressed.

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