North End Zoning Committee Worries Over Expanded Alcohol Licensing

By A.J. Herrmann
Boston University News Service

NORTHEND —Worries over the high number of alcohol-serving restaurants in the North End continue to cloud the minds of the neighborhood’s residents, who raised concerns at a zoning meeting on Sept. 25.

David Kubiak, co-chair of the Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee, outlined figures that shocked many of the attendees.

“For the city of Boston as a whole, there is an alcohol license for every 679 residents… In Hyde Park there is one for every 1,200 residents… In the North End, it’s one license for every 110 residents, in this very tiny neighborhood,” said Kubiak during the meeting held at the Mariner’s House.

At this point, the North End/Waterfront Residents Association has supported the liquor licenses of 91 establishments, reaching the cap agreed upon by the zoning committee, he said.

In total, for roughly 10,000 North End residents, there are 9,000 licensed seats that can serve alcohol until 1 a.m. any night of the week.

That being said, the people filling these seats are mostly non-residents. For those who do live in the North End, the adverse effects on the neighborhood are a big enough issue to raise concerns.

Under the umbrella of the alcohol discussion, the NEWRA also discussed the ramifications of transferring an alcohol distribution license for the local wine and beer retailer known as Bottles, located on Commercial Street.

Dan O’Connor, the future owner of the establishment, said he plans to assume a full-time management role and will also look to hire some part-time employees.

“My intention with the business is that I would be the owner/manager of it… much to the dismay of my fiancée; she’ll never see me again,” said O’Connor.

He said he will not change how the shop is run, but he does plan to expand its presence in the community.

“With Bottles I plan to be more active in the community, doing charity events, doing educational classes, that sort of thing,” he said.

O’Connor assured the committee that he does not plan to cater to discount beer consumers — a section of the market that North End resident Stephanie Hogue hopes to steer out of the neighborhood.

Residents “don’t like the beer cans ending up in front of their condos. They don’t like people drinking here, causing a disturbance,” she said.

“I plan to change [the business], but I plan to change it for the better,” answered O’Connor confidently. His application for the store’s alcohol distribution license transfer is not settled and subject to vote at an upcoming meeting.

The next NEWRA meeting will be held on October 1 to discuss the rehabilitation of the North Bennet Street School. Further alcohol licensing discussions and concerns can be voiced at the NEWRA monthly meeting on Oct. 11.

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