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State decision on liquor violation appeals could affect Braintree Licensing Board

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 28, 2013 04:08 PM

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The appeal of two recent liquor license violations in Braintree could have larger impacts on how the town's licensing board acts in the future, town officials said.

The appeals come from The Braintree Brewhouse, found in September to have overserved a patron, and The Landing Pub, found in February to have committed the same offense.

Though it will be some time before the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission renders a decision on either, town officials are waiting anxiously.

“What’s happening for Braintree is we will learn if we’ve been correct in applying the standards that must be met, especially in regard to serving an intoxicated person,” said Joseph Powers, Braintee's town clerk and chairman of the Board of Licensing Commissioners. “That will go a long way dictating how we operate going forward.”

According to Powers, the biggest factor is the current Licensing Board has never had an appeal regarding the overserving of a patron.

In a sense, the decision will give the board some institutional knowledge.

“I can’t recall the last time there was a violation on the charge of serving an intoxicated person that was appealed on the one hand, and on the other was overturned,” Powers said. “This board, operating since [the change in government in] 2008 has not had this type of issue come before us.”

Town officials have been dealing with several hearings for liquor license violations as of late, all having to do with allegations of overserving patrons.

Problems started with the Braintree Brewhouse in August, where a woman allegedly drank heavily throughout the evening and ended up throwing up outside the establishment that night. She was eventually transported to South Shore Hospital.

Though not a unanimous vote, during a September hearing the board found the bar guilty of overserving, and voted to suspend the bar’s liquor license for one day.

The penalty would be suspended if the establishment did not have any future offenses for six months.

Shortly thereafter, both The Landing Pub and Four Square Restaurant and Bar both allegedly overserved a man celebrating his 21st birthday in a September incident.

The man allegedly got in a fight with his brother outside the pubs, and police had to be called to intervene.

The Licensing Board found The Landing Pub guilty of overserving the man in a hearing on Feb. 26, levying a two-day liquor license suspension.

The same incident rendered a similar conclusion at Four Square during a hearing on March 12. The bar was given a one-day liquor license suspension, which the bar will not have to serve if it stays out of trouble for six months.

Four Square has not yet appeal the ruling. However, the appeal process is one the Brewhouse has already undertaken, and The Landing Pub has just begun.

According to Powers, the ABCC has already heard testimony from the Brewhouse, and has begun a review of all the materials. That process could take months. The Landing Pub also filed an appeal of the town’s decision on March 12.

Powers said the cards are up in the air on how the ABCC will rule, and that board takes a fine-tooth comb to the evidence in rendering its decision. Regardless of what occurs, their decision would have an impact.

“I’m familiar with decisions from the ABCC and [they] do an incredibly job of documenting anything and we need to be prepared for any decision that comes down,” Powers said, noting that he himself has some sort of institutional knowledge based off his time as a selectman.

The Licensing Board knew of both appeals before rendering a decision in the most recent case against Four Square, however that knowledge seemed to have little impact.

Instead, Powers said the conviction was largely based on the guilt of The Landing Pub, which had allegedly already over-served the patron there before the intoxicated man was over-served at Four Square.

“The board was able to build off the Landing Pub case,” Powers said.

Powers also noted that there was no awkwardness in levying a penalty on a bar partially owned by state Senator Robert Hedlund, mainly because Hedlund wasn’t there when the violation took place, and did not participate in the hearing. .

“The way the town always viewed this is this is a licensed establishment like any other … from my perspective, [his ownership] is not something that enters in to the day to day operations,” Powers said.

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