A License Commission decision last week allowing a beer and wine license at a convenience store on the Parkway in Beachmont has drawn some ire among residents, and a petition to appeal the license at the state level.
Nevertheless, the Dimino family, who applied for and got the license for a new convenience store (Parkway Convenience) in their new building, said that the ire is only sour grapes from competitors.
“It’s only going to be two coolers, a very small complement to the store,” said John Dimino, an owner of the building and the famous sandwich shop on the Parkway. “I think [the opposition] is a very small group of people who don’t want the competition – kind of like when the guy who owns a liquor store down the street gets a lawyer to go against us. I didn’t like it when Wendy’s opened up next to me, but I can’t go try to stop them.”
Others, however, including Ward 1 Councillor Doug Goodwin, feel that the March 29th decision is upsetting and allows yet another alcohol outlet in an area of the city already heavy with alcohol outlets.
Already, resident Corey Abrams has elicited the help of Attorney Jim Cipoletta – who spoke in opposition to the license at the Commission meeting and has represented other liquor stores in the area in the past – to file an appeal with the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC).
Goodwin said that he feels the decision might set a precedent and open up the door for more convenience stores to pursue beer and wine licenses. In the past, the Commission has not been open to allowing such licenses, denying licenses at the Li’l Peach on Beach Street and 7-Day Convenience in Beachmont Square.
“We don’t need a liquor store on every corner; these things have to stop,” said Goodwin. “For them to approve something like this, it stinks. What bothers me is this might open up a Pandora’s Box for other convenience stores. I can’t see them now not allowing the [7-day Convenience Store] across from Beachmont Liquors. Then you have three liquor stores on one corner.”
Goodwin also said it’s a matter for more study, and perhaps advocating for the state to change the way it allocates licenses to cities and towns. Currently, they are allocated by population, and there is not consideration or differentiation between neighborhoods of a city.
“It’s not by district population, it’s by overall city population,” he said. “That’s not good for our district.”
Parks and Recreation Director Adrienne Sacco Maguire – also a Beachmont resident – testified against the license at the hearing and said she was disappointed.
“I think that was a clear case of having enough,” said Maguire. “Look at all the alcohol signs in Beachmont Square. They just don’t get it.”
Commission Chair Michael Pepe said that the Commission felt they really had no choice due to the fact that there were no direct abutters and that the store is virtually an island to itself. He said he respected the dissent, but felt this was a unique circumstance and one that does not open a Pandora’s Box for more.
“If we could be arbitrary with these decisions and base them on a whim, I’m probably the first person who would say we have enough [alcohol establishments],” he said. “But [the licenses are allocated] on a quota system based on population and until they change the state statute, we have to hear these cases. I firmly believe if we had denied this one, the appellant would have prevailed at the ABCC. It wasn’t a politically expedient decision, but I guess the Commission is not there to do what is politically expedient.”
RevereCARES – the local substance abuse coalition that focuses on underage drinking – did oppose the license, as they do for almost all such licenses. They said they were disappointed with the decision, but felt the Commission acted properly.
“It seems the License Commission, from a legal standpoint, felt they had to grant the license,” said Jesse Williams of RevereCARES. “The coalition following the outcome of this decision – which we were disappointed with – will be investigating and educating ourselves more about the statewide legality of how liquor licenses are allocated.”
Dimino repeated that he believes the thrust of the opposition comes from potential competition.
“The only opposition I see is competition and RevereCARES, who opposes all licenses like this and we’re working with them,” he said. “We’ve been here for 40 years and I’m not going to let a couple beer coolers ruin my main business and this business. It’s not going to happen.”