The relaxation of a law about alcohol on public property faced a setback as members of the Town Council received notice that the Bylaw Subcommittee was not in favor.
The letter, read at the meeting on Oct. 12, said the subcommittee voted 3-2 to send the proposal back to the full council with an unfavorable review. The subcommittee cited concerns about public safety raised by the North Attleborough Police Department at a prior meeting on Oct. 3.
The proposal in question would modify a bylaw to allow for the consumption of alcoholic beverages on public property, but only during specific periods and only if the vendor submits appropriate licensing approved by the town’s licensing board.
Councilor Daniel Donovan, who serves on the bylaw committee, said he could not support the proposal in its current form, as it would go against the wishes of those in public safety.
“Those of us who voted against the bylaw felt we should be listening to the police department,” Donovan said. “This is a public safety concern and this is a public safety bylaw.”
However, Donovan said he was open to compromise. One suggestion was to write language about area overlays for those distributing alcoholic beverages. The police department said having alcoholic beverages in open public areas, such as during the town’s annual block party, is non-negotiable for them.
Donovan then quoted Capt. Jason Roy, who at the previous meeting said, “This is an anathema to everything we do in public safety.”
Councilor Andrea Slobogan disagreed with this assessment, saying the proposal is about increasing capital for local businesses and not just for leisure.
“I am going to be clear and transparent,” she said. “This is not a free game to grab a can or 40 (ounce) and walk down the street. This is about a little more freedom for our businesses. Other towns do this, and so should we.”
Slobogan serves as the co-chair of the North Attleborough Farmers Market and has tried to help vendors and businesses in town who could benefit from wine tastings or special events. She said the police already have a say on the matter as Capt. Roy serves on the licensing board.
The original language of the proposal was drafted by KP Law, a firm that has worked with the town on issues that involve the Town Charter and bylaws. Town Manager Mike Borg said the language is similar to other towns and cities and the law would ensure those distributing alcohol go through a detailed review process.
“I don’t have a vote, but there is a process,” Borg said in defense of the proposal. “There is a special events working group that is briefed before it is passed to a recommendation. We are not advocating for open containers on any town property.”
The Town Council can still vote in favor of the proposal, despite the subcommittee’s unfavorable report. Council President Justin Paré said the council will read the bylaw at its next meeting and promised a vote.
“We will read it the first time at the next council meeting, then a second time at the following one,” Paré said. “We also are not required to do a public hearing for bylaw, but if necessary, we could hold a meeting.”