September 11 2019

Selectmen Deny Beer/Wine License for Burlington Gas Station

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen denied a liquor license application for a gas station and convenience store that was looking to expand its offerings. 


Nouria Energy had filed an application for a Beer & Wine License for its Shell location at 61-63 Middlesex Turnpike. 


Store Manager Nik DiMambro told the board that Nouria Energy, a family-owned company based out of central Massachusetts that has been in operation for 30 years, currently has 118 locations throughout New England. Of those, 60 stores sell beer, wine and liquor, including seven in Massachusetts in Oxford, Uxbridge, Boylston, Westboro, Wilbraham, Winchendon and Springfield. 


DiMambro added that the company has a comprehensive training program for all employees in how to handle age-restricted products and that they have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone caught selling those types of products to minors, either in a police sting or an internal check. He said that in the stores that sell alcohol the company has not had any violations in regards to selling to minors. 


As reported by BNEWS, however, other gas stations in Burlington owned or co-owned by Nouria Energy have failed tobacco sale checks conducted by the Burlington Police and the Board of Health. In May of 2017 the Hess station at 140 Cambridge Street, owned by Nouria, failed its second tobacco sale check within a 24-month period. Worse yet, in 2016 the Shell Gas/Nouria Energy station at 198 Cambridge Street failed its third tobacco sale sting and was subject to a 30-day suspension of tobacco product sales.


DiMambro stressed that the company’s training and procedures had been updated since other issues in town. He said all employees would get TIPS certifications before the sale of alcohol began and all future hires would be certified as well. 


“For tobacco we have quarterly training that employees have to complete and sign off on,” he said. “We also have the scanning of IDs to prevent underage sales.” 


He also said the new store layout being proposed would make it easier for employees to monitor the areas where alcohol would be in coolers and on shelves and that those areas would also be covered by a camera system. 


Despite the assurances members of the board said they were against the sale of alcohol at gas station/convenience stores.  


“This comes to us not with a lot of support here,” Selectman Bob Hogan said. “First of all we think there are plenty of opportunities for people to purchase beer and wine at other places in town.”


Hogan said that the one convenience store in town that does have a beer/wine license obtained it before the current members were on the board. 


“I philosophically don’t like the idea of a convenience store selling alcohol,” Selectman Jim Tigges said. “I just don’t like the idea.” 


The board chair agreed. 


“I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I’m not in favor of it,” Chairman Joe Morandi said. “I don’t believe these two businesses should go together.” 


In the end the board 0-4-1 in favor of approving the license. Selectman Mike Runyan abstained from voting.


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