The Town Council has approved an easing of restrictions on the consumption of alcohol on public property.
Council members voted 7-2 at the Nov. 21 meeting to ease restrictions on Section 7A of the Police Regulations Bylaws to add language that allows the consumption and distribution of alcoholic beverages on public property under the requirement that vendors submit appropriate licensing approved by the town’s Licensing Board and Town Manager Michael Borg
The change in language contrasts with the bylaw subcommittee’s unfavorable review vote. Three of the five subcommittee members argued that there would be a public safety risk if the law was changed. The North Attleborough Police Department also expressed its opposition to the change in a prior meeting that month. Nevertheless, the Town Council voted to pass the resolution, which goes into effect on Dec. 12.
Councilor Annie Slobogan said she supported the bylaw change as a way to help local businesses. Slobogan, who serves as the president of the Downtown North Attleborough Collaborative, said it was time for North Attleborough to join surrounding towns in adopting this language, saying it would provide beer gardens and vendors in town an opportunity to hold wine tastings at events such as the town’s Farmers Market.
“We had a person be a vendor at our market and she wasn’t able to serve her samples as she did in other towns,” she said. “I want to make this clear, this is not about giving anyone a free pass to drink, this is about helping our markets and bringing in other communities to grow our capital. It also would help our local businesses like Angle Tree Brewery if they wanted to do a sampling.”
Council Vice Chair John Simmons agreed with Slobogan’s thinking and added he trusts the community to be responsible when participating in events and not hold what he called “wild parties.”
“If this fails, and if there are issues, I would be happy to look at this again,” Simmons said. “I loathe to vote against the recommendation of our public safety, but for the types of events to be happening out in North Attleborough, I hope that those fears were unfounded.”
The two councilors who voted no, Mark Gould Jr. and Dan Donovan, still said the bylaw change did not specify the types of acceptable events that fall under the preview of the Licensing Board and Town Manager review.
Donovan suggested an amendment that would allow for only wine-tasting events to be approved. Councilman Darius Gregory expressed skepticism about this idea,.
“My main question is why this type of amendment,” Gregory asked. “Do you feel like this mitigates risks by only allowing tastings?”
Donovan argued that NAPD Capt. Jason Roy would approve of the idea and how it would receive a unanimous vote in the bylaw subcommittee– to which Gregory and Slobogan interjected and said that Roy did not speak of any measure he would support.
The amendment failed 2-7.