September 12 2018

Selectmen Revoke Burlington Beer Works Liquor License

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Board of Selectmen has revoked a liquor license from a proposed restaurant project that never got started despite having a building permit for over half a year.

 

On Monday the board voted 5-0 during a show cause public hearing to revoke the liquor license from Burlington Beer Works, which had been slated to occupy the location in the Crossroads Plaza at 34 Cambridge Street that previously housed Outback Steakhouse.

 

This hearing had been a long time in the making. In December of 2017 and January of 2018 the Board of Selectmen held public hearings to consider revoking the liquor license previously granted to the business for what they said was an unnecessary delay. The project was first brought to the town in 2015 and after some changes and modifications to the plan a building permit was issued in February of this year. The liquor license transfer from Outback Steakhouse was approved in November of 2015.

 

On December 18, 2017, Attorney Paul Sporn, representing Joseph Slesar of Slezar Bros., the owner of Beer Works, said that once a small issue with the Planning Board was cleared up and the building permit was granted work would begin “within 10 days.” Though the permit was issued in February it was never picked up from the Building Department and no work has been done at the site.

 

During the meeting this week Building Inspector John Clancy said that after a building permit is issued the petitioner has six months to begin construction. He said that Slezar Bros. had applied for an extension to the permit but the filing did not meet the standards of the town.

 

“On Friday, August 3 the applicant’s contractor came in and picked up the permit and asked for an extension of time that was submitted in writing,” he said. “An extension application needs to be specific, show a specific cause, but this one was general so based on that I don’t see a justification for the town to extend the license.”

 

Sporn and Slesar were both at the meeting and argued against the revocation of the license. Sporn said he and his client felt that revoking the license on the basis of a delay in action was overly punitive.

 

“On the issue of revocation, I’d like to suggest that is a harsh outcome in my view and Mr. Slesar’s view,” he said. “My client has not violated any law, did not serve a minor. There has been no abandonment of the license despite the fact that the site is undeveloped.”

 

Slesar said a big factor for the delay and his change in view of the viability of the project was the changes underway at the plaza. Since he first proposed the project, he said, Roche Bros. and Busa Wine had both closed and Target had started a massive construction project.

 

“Somewhere at the beginning of this year it did lose the business momentum,” he said of the project.

 

Slesar and Sporn said that since deciding the project was not viable they had attempted to find new entities interested in a transfer. Two such possible options did not pan out but they are currently working with another party they felt would be acceptable for the town. Slesar said the whole thing has been financially difficult for him and asked for a little more time.  

 

“I have several hundred thousand dollars wrapped up in the license and would like an opportunity to see it transferred,” he said.

 

The board and town leadership, however, were not seemingly in the mood to allow more time. Town Administrator John Petrin pointedly asked if construction had started at the current location. When he was told “no” he asked if there was an agreement as of that night to transfer the license. When he was told “no” again he stated: “Those are the facts for the board - construction has not started and there is no agreement.”

 

After some more discussion Selectman Joe Morandi made a motion to close the public hearing followed by a motion to revoke the license. The board voted unanimously to take that action.  


 

 
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