Alcohol being sold at gas stations in Stoneham

Dear friends and citizens of Stoneham,


On November  19, 2013 the Stoneham Liquor Licensing Authority granted  an application  to sell beer and wine at the Spot Pond Mobil station at the corner of Main and South Street.  This application was granted despite written and vocal opposition from the citizens of Stoneham.  Another license was practically promised for consideration at the Mobil station on Montvale Ave in six months.  In addition, six months ago the board voted unanimously against this action.   What has changed?

There are many reasons why this application should not have been granted.  Police input on the impact was not sought.  The citizens were not notified of a major licensing change or given ample time to voice their concerns.

The Spot Pond Mobil station is across the street from the MDC pool, which will be taken over by the Boys & Girls club.  It is within walking distance to the Stone zoo and a playground.  Behind the gas station is a residential neighborhood . 

We are being given the chance now to ask the Liquor Licensing Board to reconsider this application  Many of us feel selling liquor at gas stations will forever change the culture of our town and will cheapen our community!  We do NOT want to be known as the only community in the area that sells liquor at gas stations. 

Please join us on Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00pm at the Stoneham Selectman's meeting in Town Hall to voice your opinion.


Cindy Hemenway November 30, 2013 at 09:11 AM
I agree with you, Joan. Thank you for posting this comment. I did not know town residents would have an opportunity to weigh in on this after it was approved by the selectmen on a vote of 3 - 2. I want to attend Tuesday's meeting to voice my concerns about a liqueur license being granted at the Mobil on the corner of Main at Friendly 's. This is wrong for many reasons. Unfortunately our judicial system, in spite of "strict" drunk driving laws, allow drunk drivers off with a tap on the wrist. If that gas station, so close to the highway, is allowed to sell beer and wine, I believe this will encourage even more drinking and driving. Let's save liqueur licenses to attract legitimate restaurants to Stoneham.
Paul John Maisano December 01, 2013 at 09:30 AM
Joan & Cindy, Thanks for your heads-up! I live five houses away from the Mobil gas station on the corner of South & Main, and have spoken to a few of my neighbors about this liquor license issue. None voiced a concern from the neighborhood. In fact, a few of us may enjoy purchasing a bottle of wine on the way home from work. I hope that doesn't categorize us as a potential reckless irresponsible driver. Incidentally, none of my neighbors recognized either of your names being from South Stoneham. I pride myself by knowing most everyone in a four block area by first name, please stop by and say hello. While speaking with an older woman she made an interesting constructive comment. We might as well make ATM's, & lottery counters illegal too. These type of sales may attract bank robbers and cultivate gambling addictions. She is around eighty, and is very coherent. And with this issue I can't agree with her more! My family has been living in this end of town for over thirty years. The Mobil has always been a great neighbor. I feel no concern for this permit allowance. If we are to be concerned with crime? Maybe we should bar more Dunkin Donut shops, the D & D's have recently attracted over twenty robbery incidents in less than three months around the area. Only joking, we like our coffee too! Paul Maisano 10 Gorham Ave. Stoneham, MA 02180
phyllis Warren December 01, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Interesting comment, Paul. There are 4 more liquor licenses to be granted by the board, one of which is designated for a gas station on Montvale Ave in 6 months. Stoneham has become a popular town to visit because of the Stoneham Theatre and a few popular restaurants. It's been a long road. (I know, having served on the first Beautification Committee back in the 70's/80's) In my opinion, selling liquor in gas stations is a set back for a town 3 by 1 miles.
Camille December 01, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Maybe I'm mistaken, but when the selectmen voted to ask the state for five liquor licenses, the conversation centered on having licenses available for RESTAURANTS that may choose to do business in Stoneham. When did that focus change? The citizens of the Commonwealth of Mass. voted not to have beer and wine in grocery stores, but it's ok to sell it at the Mobil? It's obvious our elected officials are losing their focus as to what will make Stoneham a better place to live. We, as concerned citizens have to pick up the slack and remind them.
phyllis Warren December 01, 2013 at 12:28 PM
In addition, don't agree that Mobil's being a good neighbor is an adequate reason for granting the license. This was the mindset of the Selectmen who voted in favor. We have lots of "good neighbors" who own gas stations. Shall we grant each of them a license?...Recently, I called Town Hall questioning the colors that a local merchant was painting his building. The response I received was, "he can paint the building any color he wants. We're not Winchester". Attitudes such as this by Town Hall employees and our Town Officials are the very reasons that Stoneham will never come close to being a Winchester. Offering liquor in gas stations is another set back for a town that takes one step forward and two back.
Paul John Maisano December 01, 2013 at 02:06 PM
Phyllis & Camille, Well, we are in disagreement a bit which fosters healthy debate on such issues. I honestly believe that the Selectmen are attempting a business friendly approach to small business people. They pay higher taxes and receive little, or no town services to speak of. In my opinion, any consideration to businesses is long overdue and sound decision. With regards towards dictating a particular paint color upon a private property? Without the benefit of a tested standing town bylaw in place the town employee was correct, it is illegal... to say the least. After all, the last time I checked the stars & stripes still waves in front of our homes in town. And yes, I was against the 18th Amendment in a previous life around 1920. (Constitutional Amendment that created Prohibition.) Just a bit of humor about the law of the land! Nice discussion. If I have time I might stop in the meeting myself. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. Paul Maisano
Angelo December 01, 2013 at 11:11 PM
Paul, I think that the town can be more business friendly by offering a commercial tax cut (maybe funded by some of the new growth from Wincrest, the Assisted living center, etc) instead of resorting to having a packy on every corner of town. The big picture needs to be evaluated here, and it seems to me the potential downside to the community in granting this license outweighs any upside.
Paul John Maisano December 02, 2013 at 07:54 AM
Angelo, Thanks for reminding me> Having been out of local politics for nearly 20 years there is a mechanism, that is if still in place, called the 'dual tax rate'. This enables a community the option to establish two different real estate tax rates. Traditionally, the commercial tax rate is higher by 10 -25%, than that of the residential rate. When attempting to cultivate a superior business environment this tool used by the Board of Assessors which may assist in the cultivation of stronger business sector. Unfortunately, I believe Stoneham has a very, very small, (less than 5%), business community. However, any effort supporting local merchants would be welcomed. With regards to fostering an atmosphere of the availability to purchase beer & wine. My thoughts never endorsed full package stores on every corner. In fact, within the MA State liquor licensing statutes all communities must adhere to strict limitations. An example is the number of permits based on the gross city/town population, and minimum distance from educational facilities, etc. This alleviates the potential problem you justifiably posted. I would recommend you attend the meeting you raise valid points towards the community discussion of so many issues. I am certain the Board of Selectmen welcome such commentary to assist them during the decision making process. Hope your well....nice hearing from you! Regards Paul Maisano


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