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Letter: Concerns on Increasing the Number of Burlington's Liquor Licenses

A letter to the editor from Town Moderator Phillip Gallagher.

The following is a letter to the editor:

I have number of concerns regarding the proposal to petition the state for 10 new liquor licenses.

  1. Sewer capacity. As you know the town has been conducting house to house inspec tions  in search of illegal sewer connections. Whatever is found in this search is unlikely to be sufficient to absorb the new sewer production of commercial expansion already approved but not built.

Restaurants and bars along with hotels and hospitals are enormous generators of sewer effluent. Although the force main is soon to be completed that project will not create any additional sewer capacity.

We are at the end of the sewer line and the communities downstream are just as busy as we are trying to build. How long will it be before we return to sewer surcharging as a regular event?

  1. Northwest Park. The last petition to the state was for an increase of ten licenses for Northwest Park. These licenses have not been awarded yet. Northwest Park is clearly the single most important development project in the town from a valuation and tax standpoint. Although it is Nordblom’s responsibility to complete the project it does not make sense to me that we should create additional competition and lure away liquor/restaurant tenants that might otherwise go to Northwest and enhance the Northwest PDD.
  2. Smaller venues. Although it might be the boards desire to locate mom and pop type establishments in town, to my knowledge there isn’t any mechanism whereby once granted, you could legally prevent the sale or relocation of an existing license to a much larger facility. I believe that precedent has already been set by the Wegman’s purchase approved by the board.
  3. Alcohol related offenses. In my view a continued expansion of this magnitude in the town is going to result in the same statistical increase in liquor related problems.  DUI’s, accidents and alcohol related disturbances will likely all rise by the same percentages.
  4. Revenue. Since the increase in the local option meals tax there has been a rush by localities to take advantage. We can look back in history to similar circumstance.  In 2001 our hotel tax revenue was 1.5 million dollars. During a 2 year period ending in 2002 we added 4 new hotels and 583 rooms. Even with an almost doubling of rooms our revenue dropped to $903,000 and we did not recover to $1.4 million in revenue until 2008. In addition we saw a tremendous drop in property tax revenues from the hotels. One example was the Holiday Inn/Wyndham Gardens which changed in hands 2000 for 14 million dollars and subsequently sold in 2004 for $6,480,000. This clearly indicates that more was not better. I believe a similar result will occur with an overbuilding of restaurants and liquor licenses.

Phil Gallagher

8 Corcoran Road

J. Parker December 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
As long as money takes precedence over safety in this town, we lose, Phil. Sad commentary. We already have enough restaurants and they just keep coming. The new 'Tarvern', on the Mall Rd., isn't worth it, IMO. Noise factor is a detriment, and food not good enough to put up with it.
Pats December 20, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Competition. Capitalism is built on the principal of competition but you'd rather limit it. Shame. We need these liquor licenses. We need the restaurants. We need the competition. It will be better for all of us and improve our quality of life.
B Springer December 20, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Burlington needs more restaurants??? We have dozens of restaurants - and the traffic woes that go with them. Enough already!

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