As a part of the discussion that has lasted for several months, Reading selectmen continue to weigh paint versus precedent.
During Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, members debated how to approach the request by a resident seeking to open a paint and sip business that would require a liquor license to operate.
Selectmen discussed whether they would need to require business owner Judy Barolak to serve a full food menu in order to grant her a liquor license. Barolak is requesting a liquor license that allows a two-drink maximum allowing patrons to drink wine while they create their paintings.
Chairman James Bonazoli said he is concerned because he does not want to make an exception for one business because of the precedent it could set. Board members said they must decide whether to create a new policy that would fit the paint and sip concept, or if Barolak must follow the regulations of standard liquor licenses.
“The community has gone without much issue, but we were a dry community not that long ago and we have now issued many liquor licenses,” said Bonazoli. “What kind of community are we trying to be? I have no problem with paint and sip. You’re trying to create a business. I am trying to create a policy. We can’t write policy for one business, just as we don’t do spot zoning.”
Among the possible solutions to the stalemate is allowing the business to sell wine if they also sell packaged snacks instead of a full menu.
“I am considering food because I want to make this happen, and I think it’s a viable business for the community,” said Barolak. “If I can work food into the business to make it happen, it’s not my first choice but I would.”
Selectman John Arena said he, like Bonazoli, is concerned about the possibility of a paint and sip decision setting precedence for businesses taking advantage of an inadvertently created loophole.
“There’s obviously no way to deal with this. But there is consistency of this type of business cropping up around the area,” said Arena. “My main concern is that we don’t by being helpful create a problem for us later.”
Selectmen opted to set a public hearing at the board’s next meeting on October 8 at 8:30 p.m. The hearing will allow selectmen to either create a new policy or accept the business under the current liquor license guidelines.
“I think it’s a terrific idea in concept,” said Bonazoli. “I’m looking at it as a policy maker.”