AYER — Should Ayer allow BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) at establishments that aren’t otherwise licensed to sell alcohol? On a close vote, the Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to let the public weigh in on the concept.
Bootlegging language from neighboring Groton and Ayer Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand put forth a draft application that businesses could use to state their intention to welcome customers to bring their own beer and wine (but not hard liquor) for consumption on their premises. If the selectmen were so inclined, Pontbriand suggested the selectmen host a public hearing on the idea and then fine- tune a BYOB policy to put such a plan on the books.
Pontbriand said the intent of such any policy wouldn’t be to restrict businesses, but to spell out “some realistic controls,” including a reaffirmation that minors aren’t to be served alcohol and that servers should be TIPS certified.
Selectmen Frank Maxant and Jim Fay opposed a formal town BYOB policy. Fay said that businesses are allowed “as of right” to institute their own BYOB procedures without town government involvement.
Maxant added, “what we’re losing here is a good chance to keep our noses ou,” of private BYOB situations. “We’re getting ourselves involved in areas where we’re assuming some responsibilities that we don’t have to assume. I think we should just drop it.”
But the majority disagreed and voted to set a public hearing on the matter to hear input for and against BYOB at town businesses.
I don’t agree with you on this one,” said Selectman Gary Luca to Maxant. “You have to have some kind of control… We’re opening up a can of worms if we don’t have it.”
“It’s not just about control. It’s what does our community want and feel about BYOB,” said Selectman Chairman Rick Gilles. “If we choose after the hearing that it’s not a big issue, then we just drop it.”
“It would be a comfort to parents to have this policy,” said Selectman Carolyn McCreary. Parents would then be able to know which establishments permit BYOB and which do not.
Selectmen voted to hold a public hearing on a 3-2 vote with Fay and Maxant opposing the notion. A date and time for such a public hearing has not yet been set.