Chelsea Walk Pub Hit With Long Suspension

After viewing multiple surveillance videos of patrons falling off stools, being overserved, urinating in public, getting groped, and laid out on the sidewalk by the front door after closing time, the Licensing Commission last week suspended the Chelsea Walk Pub’s liquor license for 10 weeks.

The attorney for the Pub argued that the Broadway bar has avoided violations in the past. But for Commission members, the multiple incidents brought before it at its April 3 meeting were serious enough to warrant the harsh judgment.

The Licensing Commission found the Chelsea Walk Pub violated City ordinances by overserving patrons, selling liquor to an intoxicated person, creating a noise or disorderly disturbance, and failing to provide video surveillance. The majority of the violations resulted from incidents responded to by the Police Department late last November.

In a letter to the Licensing Commission, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino urged the commission not to take the reported violations lightly.

“A liquor license is a privilege and not a right,” the City Manager stated.

The majority of the April 3 hearing revolved around the showing of video surveillance footage from a number of the incidents.

Police highlighted one patron at the end of the bar who had three drinks in front of him before stashing an unopened beer in his jacket while the bartender wasn’t looking.

Meanwhile, police pointed out that at the other end of the bar, a woman sat with two pitchers of beer in front of her with no one else drinking from the mugs. In addition, the video showed the woman encouraging another patron to put his hand down her shirt and grope her breast.

Police Captain Keith Houghton said both incidents violated the city alcohol serving ordinances.

Attorney Jeffrey Rosario Turco, representing the Pub, put up a defense to the evidence, noting several times that the patrons who were alleged to have been overserved seemed steady on their feet and not intoxicated.

“With all due respect, that woman allowed a man to go down her shirt with two pitchers of beer in front of her,” said City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher. “There are implications all over the place.”

Additional video and evidence showed a patron leaving the bar and urinating outside on the sidewalk and a patron weaving into the street before being spotted by a police officer.

Licensing Commission member Roseann Bongiovanni was unmoved by Turco’s “not swaying” defense when it came to video of one patron who left the bar then went back in after being allegedly overserved.

“He’s leaning up against the way, that’s why he’s not swaying,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s some good evidence you have there.”

Most damning was an incident that showed several patrons and a bartender struggling for nearly 10 minutes to carry an alleged intoxicated patron out the door after closing time. Once the man was laid on the sidewalk, the bartender went back inside and locked the front door of the bar.

“The bartender quickly closed the door and leaves him out flat, leaving him pretty much to us,” said Houghton.

Turco did not dispute the evidence in that incident, but said that the bartender in the video had been fired.

Chelsea Walk Pub owner Angela Palmieri said the main problem has been that her staff has not stepped up.

“They don’t listen to what I tell them to do,” she said.

While the Pub hasn’t come before the Licensing Commission in recent memory for violation, Bongiovanni said it has largely been because there weren’t City resources to police the establishment before. She said the Chelsea Walk Pub has a long history of shenanigans.

“There have been so many instances at the Chelsea Walk Pub,” she said. “These are just the ones you got caught for; it is a disgrace to the city.”

In addition to the 10-week liquor license suspension, the Licensing Commission also voted to reduce the bar’s operating hours from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. to noon to 10 p.m.

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Licensing Commission Close to Vote on Marijuana Regulations

Licensing Commission Close  to Vote on Marijuana Regulations

With plans to host four recreational marijuana shops already at some phase of readiness in Chelsea, the Licensing Commission is nearing a final vote on regulations for special additional rules for those establishments.

On March 7, the Commission continued a public hearing on the regulations, focusing on the topics of application fees, locations of the pot shops, and security.

Commission Chair Mark Rossi said the Commission should be ready to take a final vote on the regulations at its meeting in early April.

The City is limited to four retail marijuana establishments.

Those shops will already be vetted heavily before they reach the Licensing Commission for final approval. Other approvals include a host agreement in place from the City and approved by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, as well as any necessary approvals from the City’s Zoning and Planning Boards.

Rossi said the Licensing Commission will grant the retail pot shop licenses in much the same manner as it does for liquor licenses.

One of the questions raised by an early draft of the Licensing Commission regulations was whether the Commission should limit the shops to one or two per voting district.

The City ordinance already limits the establishments to three zoning districts — Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zones.

By the end of last week’s hearing, there was general agreement among the commissioners that there would not be a restriction on how close the pot shops can be to one other.

City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda agreed that was the right move on the issue.

“I would oppose any sort of restriction on the number of feet from one place to another,” he said. “We already have zoning in place in the city and we don’t need to add another layer to that; we don’t do it for other businesses.”

The Commission also agreed on a $500 application fee and $5,000 yearly renewal fee for the marijuana businesses.

While there were some questions about the Commission’s role in looking at security at the establishments, City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher noted that there are already strong security requirements from the state, and requirements are also written into the host agreements with the prospective businesses.

Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said she would still like to look at the host agreements to see how they address security before taking the final vote next month.

“I don’t think security is going to be an issue,” said Commissioner James Guido, adding it is more likely traffic that could cause some issues.

According to the proposed regulation, the Licensing Commission would not issue a license to anyone who has violated Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.

The operating hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the City, according to Fisher.

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Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

The Licensing Commission has continued a hearing on special additional rules for marijuana establishments to its March meeting.

The commission opened the public hearing at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17.

While the hearing did not generate much controversy, commissioners did agree that they wanted more time to consider several issues, including language limiting where retail marijuana shops can be concentrated, and the amount the city will charge for application fees.

“I’d like to see more research and see what nearby cities have done and what their challenges are,” said commission member Roseann Bongiovanni.

Currently, there are three applications in the works for retail marijuana shops in the city. The city will allow a maximum of four retail licenses.

According to the proposed regulation, the Licensing Commission will not issue a license to anyone who has violated Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.

The operating hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the city, according to City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher.

“We are trying to be a little more restrictive now so we don’t have to clean up after the fact, like with liquor licenses,” said Fisher.

The section of the proposed regulations that garnered the most discussion among commission members was one which would limit the concentration of where retail marijuana shops can be located.

Fisher noted that the language included in the draft regulations, limiting retail shops to one per voting district and not within 500 feet of another retail marijuana store, was not included by the legal department. She said it was included because it was a request made during a past public hearing on marijuana regulations.

“We already have a very small area in Chelsea, and retail shops are already restricted to three zones and can’t be within 500 feet of schools,” said Fisher. “It is already quite restrictive of where you can put a facility.”

The city will allow marijuana establishments in the Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zone.

Licensing Commission Chairman Mark Rossi said he’d like the commission to have more discretion over where facilities can be located.

“Our job is to factor in the input from the community and the licensees,” said Rossi.

Much like it does with liquor licenses, Rossi said the Licensing Commission will be getting input from the community, police and fire departments, and other city officials when it comes to making a final determination on issuing a marijuana license.

“This committee is uniquely situated to make that determination,” he said.

Commission member James Guido said he would like more information on limiting concentration in voting districts before making a final decision on the proposed regulation.

Rossi also said he had questions about the $5,000 application and annual renewal fee for marijuana establishments, stating he would like to see a higher number.

Rossi said the application fees and concentration of locations will be discussed when the hearing is continued at its March 7 meeting.

“This is a big issue that affects everyone,” he said.

•In other business, the Licensing Commission adjusted its penalty for Rincon Latinos restaurant at 373 Washington Ave. In December, the commission suspended the restaurant’s liquor license for eight days spread over four weekends for repeated instances of exceeding its capacity.

Last week, the commission agreed to suspend the license for two weekends in January, as well as for a five-day stretch during the week when a new handicap bathroom will be installed by the restaurant owners.

The new bathroom will allow Rincons Latinos to increase its capacity from 17 to 28 people, according to John Dodge, the attorney representing the owners.

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