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Bid for alcohol sales loses

Town Meeting rejects plan to add liquor licenses

As it has since Prohibition ended, Weston will stay dry.

By a 30-vote margin, Weston Town Meeting decided Wednesday to uphold the town's longstanding ban on alcohol sales. Weston remains one of only 17 communities in Massachusetts that outlaw the sale of alcohol.

The question of lifting the town's ban on booze was prompted by Kara Kardon, a 41-year-old mother of three who sought to open a wine shop in Weston Center. The issue had not been addressed for at least 25 years, according to town officials.

The article before Town Meeting called for two retail licenses to sell wine and beer; one-day liquor licenses for nonprofit groups; and licenses for educational institutions, namely Regis College and Northeastern University, to sell wine and beer in their function halls.

Kardon said allowing alcohol sales would help nonprofit fund-raising events, attract customers to local businesses, and make shopping more convenient for residents.

"I think a fine wine shop can contribute to the character of the town," Kardon said.

But most voters at Town Meeting disagreed.

After more than an hour of vigorous debate, the majority of residents voted against the article, which lost 97 to 67.

Many opponents noted that several large wine and liquor stores are located a few miles away in neighboring communities, such as Waltham and Newton.

Michael Benson, a 21-year-old college student, opposed the article and spoke in support of the ban on alcohol.

"The vast majority of the surrounding towns sell alcoholic beverages," Benson said. "For the past 80 years, we've been a dry town. That adds to the character of this town."

Benson said if stores sell alcohol, underage employees probably would take wine and beer on the sly.

"It happened with cigarettes in the grocery," he said. "It's bound to happen."

Several other residents spoke against the article, citing traffic congestion and lack of parking in Weston Center.

Mary Ellen Sikes said if wine and beer were to be sold in town, "the costs would outweigh the benefits," and noted, with tears in her eyes, that convenient access to alcohol could be detrimental to children, as well as alcoholics and their families.

"It's my fear that if alcohol is present, children will be tempted to shoplift," Sikes said. "If the town of Weston is about community, why is alcohol in this equation at all?"

On Thursday, Kardon said: "I wasn't that surprised, but I was definitely disappointed. I'm very grateful to the selectmen for putting it to Town Meeting. Ninety-seven people made a decision for the town. Like it or not, that's how it works in a town governed by Town Meeting. Less than 1 percent of registered voters attended."

More than a dozen people left after the article failed, even though several articles remained on the warrant. They thanked Kardon for raising the issue and consoled her on the vote.

As the small crowd left the high school, where the meeting was held, one disappointed man jokingly said: "Let's go to Wayland for a drink."

Emily Sweeney can be reached at

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