Town Crier

TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury Board of Sel­ectmen met on June 17, 2020 via teleconference to discuss liquor licenses and prepare for Town Meeting.

The board reviewed a wine and malt liquor li­cense application for Theo’s Restaurant Group at 1625 Andover St. for a proposed new restaurant of 4,400 square feet and 74 seats.

“It’s a $3 million dollar plus investment in your town,” said the proponents’ attorney.

Construction is projected to start immediately following the state’s approval to allow construction to resume in Massachusetts because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the building should be completed within eight to nine months after that.

However, a letter was sent to the town by the proponents that when an all-liquor license becomes available, they would like to apply for it. This is the town’s last available wine and malt liquor license. The town is currently petitioning the state for more licenses; the town’s 30 all-liquor licenses are being actively used.

The new owners currently operate Jimmy’s Pizza Too in Lowell and have more than 20 years’ experience in restaurant ownership. The new restaurant will be “fast casual” for takeout and dine-in options, with an outdoor patio; menu options will include pizza, gourmet sandwiches, fried and broiled seafood, and soups.

The restaurant is not seeking to become a “watering hole” according to the proponent, but rather a family-friendly option to service nearby hotels and travelers on Route 133.

Board member Brian Dick praised the “exciting project” for the town, and asked, “What type of assurance can we give the business owners... to make sure that the $3 million investment doesn’t go by the wayside. The town wants to be a good partner. I am fine... to make a commitment to the business owner. What can we do to assure that business owner... for their in­vestment in town?” in re­gards to the future availability of an all-liquor li­cense.

Senior town counsel Char­les Zaroulis explained that “the town should not give any assurance that will lead one to believe they will have a guarantee for a license... as this hearing is supposed to be a fair, im­partial hearing, the next hearing for a full liquor license needs also to be a full hearing without any preconditions or statements or assurances.

“It has to be a hearing on the merits of that time. To give an assurance now, in my view, would color the position of the board insofar as that next hearing would be concerned, because someone could say [the board] made a predetermination as to the outcome of that hearing, and I believe that’s inappropriate.

“These people, whoever goes into business, make a calculation (and) there is nothing on my table that would indicate any disqualifying event as to a hearing on a full liquor license, but also, I don’t know between now and then if there are going to be violations at this res­taurant. I think it’s inappropriate to give an as­surance; I’m surprised it’s being requested.”

The board voted to grant the wine and malt liquor license with the condition that the certification of completion for the project be presented to the board within 18 months. The license will actually be issued when the restaurant is completed. If an all-liquor license is obtained by the owners, they will have to turn in the wine and malt liquor license.

The board reviewed a change of officers and di­rectors and change of beneficial interest application for the 99 Restau­rant. The board previously voted in the affirmative on the issue “pending there are no direct abutters that have any issue with that,” said chairman Jay Kelly, though the board never published the public hearing.

“I think we are good,” said Kelly, with no direct abutters calling in.

The board reviewed an application for an entertainment license from Main Street Sports Grille Corp. The proponent is seeking to run trivia nights and one- or two-piece bands. The board approved the license.

The board approved a pole petition on Woburn Street for National Grid.

The board reviewed Ar­ticles 27 and 28 of the an­nual Town Meeting warrant, the updated zoning bylaw and accompanying map. Due to COVID-19 and concerns over resident participation and health risks, the board was unsure whether the articles should be presented at Town Meeting.

Town manager Richard Montuori said that while there are no projects in the pipeline presently that would be affected by the new zoning bylaws be­tween now and special Town Meeting in October, development beyond that remained unknown; additionally, he was unsure that public health restrictions would look any different in the fall.

Members also expres­sed concerns about pushing the issue beyond Oc­tober. As the proponents, the zoning bylaw committee met Monday to discuss whether to pull the article from the warrant.

The board reappointed volunteer committee mem­bers appointed by the select board who wished to remain on their committees. The board will be posting vacancies and revisiting the issue in a few weeks. The board thanked committee members for their continued work in the community.

The board also decided to keep their own committee appointments the same; Jayne Wellman ad­ditionally requested to join the economic development committee, pending a vacancy. The board also voted to reappoint town counsel and senior town counsel.

Town manager Richard Montuori introduced Ry­an Columbus, Tewks­bury’s newly appointed chief of police following Chief Tim Sheehan’s re­tirement at the beginning of the year. As this is a civil service position, Montuori hired a firm to administer assessments for candidates, then inter­viewed the top three candidates.

Columbus has worked for the department for 20 years and was previously a detective lieutenant. He graduated from TMHS, the FBI National Acade­my, and has a degree in criminal justice from An­na Maria College.

Montuori said that Col­umbus’ leadership skills, understanding of the po­lice department, and vi­sion for the department led to his decision. Mon­tuori praised all the candidates, and believed Col­umbus will be a good fit.

Columbus thanked the committee: “We’re going to do what’s best for the community and the residents we serve,” he said.

The board reminded the community that there will be a food drive at Oak­dale Plaza on Sat­urday, June 27 from 9 a.m. - noon, to benefit the Tewksbury Food Pantry.

The next meeting is scheduled for June 30, 2020. Residents wishing to comment may find the call-in number on their screen and on the meeting agenda on the town website. The meeting may be viewed on Com­cast channel 99 and Veri­zon channel 33.

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