After three weeks of discussion, the selectmen will let the people of Mansfield decide the fate of the bring your own bottle (BYOB) policy in the spring town meeting.
While the board, with the exception of selectmen Chair Olivier Kozlowski, was against the policy due to a lack of resources to enforce it and the availability of two liquor licenses, they agreed to let the town decide where to go with BYOB.
According to the town’s legal council, to outright prohibit BYOB, a bylaw must be approved by the town's residents at a town meeting due to the current bylaw that prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public and inside establishments accessible by the public that do not have a liquor license.
The advice led to a motion that would leave the fate of the policy in the hands of Mansfield residents. Any action to prevent a BYOB policy by the selectmen would most likely not change the current legal status of the policy due to the bylaw that already exists.
The motion, made by Kozlowski, instructs the town’s legal council to draft two articles for the next town meeting's warrant that would ask residents to vote on legalizing or outlawing BYOB and to then vote on approving a scheme to enforce the policy.
Kozlowski has supported the creation of a policy for BYOB after a restaurant inquired about allowing customers to bring their own alcohol into their establishment.
“We have had a business in town ask us about doing BYOB. They asked us if it’s ok. Right now, there is nothing in state and local law that prevents them from doing that,” Kozlowski said.
The bylaw, combined with a lack of a state and federal law prohibiting BYOB laws left the town with an uncertainty on what is acceptable concerning alcohol in restaurants without liquor licenses.
The other three selectmen in attendance felt that since there were two liquor licenses available, restaurants should apply for those rather than create a new sub-license.
"I believe that the board should develop a policy and the policy should be that the town of Mansfield does not have BYOB licenses,” selectmen George Dentino said. “I also think that the town would be bettered served if they owners that didn’t have a license were able to just apply for the licenses not in use.”
Selectmen Jess Aptowitz and Doug Annino agreed with their fellow board member on the lack of a need for a new sub-license when there are unused licenses available.
“I want these restaurants to succeed and do well but having these licenses are controlled, they’re embedded in the process,” Apowitz said. “I would suggest if they want alcohol, they should apply for a license.”
There was also a discussion if the policy was fair to establishments with liquor licenses, although Kozlowski pointed out there has yet to be a complain or a public objection from a Mansfield restaurant.
“We’ve been kicking this around for more than three weeks, you think if there were restaurants vehemently opposed to this, that we would of gotten something,” Kozlowski.
The spring town meeting is expected to be held on a date to be determined in May.