MELROSE — The Board of Aldermen this week placed on hold requests from Mayor Robert J. Dolan, the Liquor License Commission and Dolan’s Liquor Licensing Advisory Committee to make some changes to city rules allowing for more restaurants to get the right to sell beer, wine and liquor.
The aldermen’s Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the matter again on April 27. The aldermen are being asked to back two petitions to state lawmakers for a Home Rule; one would lower the minimum seating capacity for a full liquor license to 50 patrons. The other would lower the minimum seating to 25 patrons for beer and wine only.
Before this week’s meeting, Dolan wrote the following to the aldermen:
“I am writing to respectfully request a favorable recommendation of ORDER-2015-118, relative to petitioning the state legislature for a Home Rule lowering the seating requirement for table-service restaurants to obtain alcohol licenses in Melrose.
“I believe it is incumbent upon elected officials to offer our business community the flexibility and creativity needed to be successful. Through the foresight of the Planning Department and the Board of Aldermen, unanimous approval was given to rezone our rail corridors from one end of the city to the other to allow for responsible housing and business growth. The overhaul of Franklin Street and upcoming reconstruction of Essex Street funded by the Commonwealth’s MassWorks grant program will lay the groundwork for updated smaller business nodes outside of Main Street
“A part of the transition of these business districts is to evolve in a pragmatic manner. In my opinion, that includes supporting smaller table service restaurants to thrive in our city by allowing the sale of alcohol. Given the lack of large commercial real estate available in the City for restaurants, I believe we should embrace this opportunity to enhance the community for our residents. After many months of listening, revising, and reviewing, the Liquor Licensing Committee passed a set of regulations that will allow for the progress needed to remain competitive without changing the character of Melrose.
“The adopted regulations promote a more uniform enforcement of the rules for restaurants. For example, they codify the regulation of allowing one alcoholic drink before requiring ordering a meal item off a menu. They also add safeguards ensuring an establishment is truly a sit-down restaurant by requiring table settings, silverware, and waiter or waitress service.
“I have been impressed with the deliberative process the Liquor License Commission and The Liquor Licensing Advisory Committee has taken to ensure any changes and recommendations are well crafted and reflect the voice of the residents and businesses of the community. This is a process that began fifteen months ago when announced at my 2014 State of the City address and has gone through several public hearings. In fact, the Commission reversed course and passed their regulations first in order for the Board of Alderman to have a complete picture before deliberating on the Home Rule Petition before you tonight,” Dolan concluded.