Gov. wants to change liquor license process

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Deval Patrick wants to change the way liquor licenses are issued. Right now, the state puts a cap on how many liquor licenses a city or town can issue. It’s based on population.

The Governor wants to do away with that system, instead, leaving it up to cities and towns.

Northampton is a city known for it’s good restaurants, but under state law, it’s only allowed to issue 30 liquors licenses. Instead, the city has issued 37, with each extra license needing special permission from the state.

“These decisions regarding how many licenses should be in a community, should really be a community decision, not based on a one size fits all numerical formula that’s set in Boston,” said Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.

With a new hotel being built on Conz Street, and no licenses available, the city will once again need to go back to the state.

Tom Douglas is a Northampton resident. He told 22News, “We have the seasonal licenses that fill the gap between the permanent full liquor and people who can’t get those. So there’s obviously demand here for more restaurants and bars.”

A seasonal license doesn’t count against the quota, but its only valid from April to November.

Richard Cooper, the owner of State Street Wines & Spirits told 22News why he doesn’t support the change. “From a store owners standpoint. I think it devalues the value of my license if 10 more licenses can come into town.”

Mayor Narkewicz told 22News liquor licenses have become a six figure value, with some businesses rolling it into the sale of their establishment.

Governor Patrick’s proposal is part of an economic development bill.

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