BYOB Regs a Work in Progress for Fitchburg Board
By Mina Corpuz
FITCHBURG -- The License Commission will keep concerns from local business owners in mind as it drafts rules that would regulate “bring your own beverage” service in the city.
“We’re trying to work with the community on this,” Chair Daniel Sarefield said at the commission’s Monday meeting.
Commissioners and the Police Department want there to be a way to register businesses that offer BYOB to help ensure patrons and the public are safe.
“At the very least we would like to know who’s doing it,” said Police Chief Ernest Martineau.
At least six businesses in the city allow patrons to bring their own drinks and not all of them are food establishments. Sarefield said there could be more the commission doesn’t know about.
When commissioners talked about safety concerns at BYOB businesses, Stacey Sparrow, owner of Art on the Rocks, said there has only been one alcohol-related incident at an establishment that offers the service in the past decade.
She and Gary Therrien, who owns the Putnam Lanes bowling alley, have spoken out at previous meetings about how regulations could impact their businesses.
Sparrow asked when revised regulations will be complete and whether to expect elements from the earlier draft, like limiting license eligibility to businesses with on-premise dining with table service and a wait staff and requiring liquor liability insurance.
“I went to art school,” she said. “Opening a restaurant is not in the cards for me.”
In response, Sarefield said those elements that received the most concern from the public likely won’t make it into the regulations that will ultimately need approval from the City Council.
The commission is waiting to hear from the city solicitor about potential liability if the city doesn’t regulate BYOB businesses, he said. That information is needed for the group to rework the regulations.
Sarefield is hoping it will be available by the commission’s Feb. 20 meeting.
Commissioners Donna Pawlak and Glenn Fossa said they don’t want regulations to have an impact on businesses.
The Monday meeting was the first opportunity of the year the commission has had to revisit discussion about potential regulations for BYOB, which has been going on since April 2016.
A series of public hearings that went on at the end of 2018 drew members of the community and BYOB business owners.
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