|By Christina Blair|
SOUTH HADLEY Town meeting members attending the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 17 passed all proposed articles, including the support of two additional liquor licenses for Food 101 and a second restaurant located in the South Hadley Falls area. Their action raised the town's number of licenses from 18 to 20.
Eighty-three town board members were present at the meeting, with 67 representing quorum.
Massachusetts allows one full liquor license per 1000 residents, but a town may vote to ask permission for additional licenses as South Hadley did, after much deliberation.
The original reason for the proposal was to secure a full liquor license for Food 101, which has been in the lower level of the Village Commons for 16 months, without violation of its current beer and wine license.
"We figured if we're going to ask the state for an extra license, we might as well ask for two," Select Board member Marilyn G. Ishler explained.
The second license, if granted by the state, will go to a future or current establishment located in the South Hadley Falls area, to bring more revenue to that part of town.
These two licenses will cost their holders an additional $1,000 over the normal fee of $2,000. The extra revenue will go into a new fund.
These licenses will also differ from regular licenses because they will be non-transferable. For example, if Food 101 left South Hadley, it could not sell its license to another business, as current licensees can. The control of the license would go back into the hands of the Select Board.
A petition with the signatures of 12 Business owners opposing the article was submitted to the Board of Selectmen at 5:30 p.m. the afternoon of the meeting.
Luke Brunelle, owner of the Dockside Restaurant on Alvord Street, spoke in opposition to the extra licenses. "The state sets a limit for a reason," he said.
"Several other towns have applied for additional licenses," said Jerry Katz, Food 101's attorney, citing Easthampton as one of the most recent.
After all concerns were addressed, the town voted by majority to go forth with the proposal to the state, hoping to bring more business to the town as a whole.
"We're happy with the outcome," said Food 101 co-owner, Alan Anischik, after the meeting. "We're not trying to hurt other businesses. We're only trying to help ourselves out and hopefully it will bring more business to the entire area."
In other efforts to bring business to the area, the town voted to allow professional businesses to supplement their profits with retail sales.
Professional businesses will now be allowed to dedicate a maximum of 35 percent of their floor plans to retail space, where they can sell items that compliment their professional service.
The businesses affected are located on Newton Street, College Street, Lyman Street, Willimansett Street, and Granby Road.
Against the recommendation of the Appropriations Committee, the town voted in favor of transferring $38,000 from its treasury to replace the pool filter at the Michael E. Smith Middle School.
The pool is used not only by students, but by community members as well.
Because of the long preparation process for this project, the Capital Planning Committee recommended the filter be replaced now, before an emergency occurs.
Planning for the renovations will begin immediately, and the pool is expected to be closed during February to April 2007, when it is least used by the public.
The town also allocated $100,000 for the replacement of the underground fuel tank at the Plains School, despite the school's uncertain future.
A presentation by Duncan McClelland of Flansburg Associates, Inc. outlining the building conditions of the Plains and Mosier Schools concluded the Plains School is deficient in size, ventilation, technology systems, internal finishes, and steam distribution.
Only three of five proposed options outlined in the presentation include the Plains School as part of South Hadley's future, but because it is the most in need of renovations, School Committee chair William Adams warned "Ninety schools in the state have submitted interest in funding. the state could agree only to fund the Plains School."
No decisions have been made yet regarding the options proposed by the architectural study, but the school committee will have to take action in the near future to assure its conformance to new Massachusetts School Building Authority guidelines.
The town voted to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with other communities including Agawam, Amherst, Chicopee, and Springfield to aide each other in emergency events where local police and fire personnel are not enough. The agreement will last 25 years and any community may withdraw with 14 days advance notice.
Ishler stated that last month, she "took courses in preparation for events that may never come", but in case they do, South Hadley is now ready.
Town meeting members approved the transfer of $27,000 to hire an outside contractor for sludge removal at the Waste Water Treatment Plant for the next fiscal year, as well as $80,000 to purchase a new roll-off truck and two 30-yard roll-off containers for the plant to be used in 2008.
The town also voted in favor of a thee percent wage increase for the Police Department, a new contract for Public Works Employees; an additional 16-hour-per-week position in the Tax Collector's office; a 19-hour-per-week Recycling Center position; and to fund back pay to overtime work at the recycling center.