Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 05-09-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | MAY 9-15, 2019 WOONSOCKET 5 WOONSOCKET – A proposal to loosen restrictions on businesses seeking liquor licenses in the down- town area has drawn mixed reactions from city councilors who say they want to promote new business along Main Street but are concerned about the potential impact on schools and churches. On Monday, councilors considered for the second time a proposal to ask the city's General Assembly delega- tion to sponsor legislation remov- ing a statewide restriction on liquor licenses within 200 feet of a church or school in the city's Downtown Overlay District. The district, created by the council in 2015 to promote economic growth, borders an area that follows Main Street, North Main Street and South Main Street. Under current state law, businesses seeking to obtain a liquor license within 200 feet of a church or school must first obtain a legislative exemption from the General Assembly. The measure, pitched by support- ers as an effort to remove red tape in a district sorely in need of eco- nomic growth, drew a cool response from fellow councilors when former Councilor Julia Brown first proposed it in April. At the time, councilors raised concerns about removing protections for religious groups and voted to table the proposal. This week, it was brought up again by Councilor David Soucy, who took up sponsorship of the measure after Brown resigned her seat on the council late last month. Soucy argued the request, if granted by state legislators, would follow the spirit of the Downtown Overlay District in removing roadblocks to new busi- ness. "This is why you created the dis- trict. It's because we want to generate and make it easier to bring businesses into the district," he said. The measure's fiercest advocate so far is Garrett Mancieri, the for- mer city councilor who also serves as chairman of the Downtown Woonsocket Collaborative. Mancieri pointed out the large number of churches and schools within the city's downtown area and told councilors that under the current layout, 41 percent of the properties in the over- lay district would require General Assembly approval before obtain- ing a liquor license. With another church slated to appear before the Zoning Board for approval next week, that number could soon rise to 49 percent, making nearly half of the properties in the district unable to obtain a liquor license without state approval. "There's just conflict after conflict that comes up that I would like to see addressed," he said. In particular, he raised concerns about properties that would other- wise be ideal for development as res- taurants or bars except for their close placement to schools and churches. Among these he included a former Thai restaurant across the street from St. Charles Borromeo Church, the former CYO center building on Federal Street and a property for sale at 2 Monument Square. Council divided on downtown liquor law changes By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer auren@valleybreeze.com See LIQUOR, Page 8 Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to: news@valleybreeze.com, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. NATIONAL GRID ENERGY SERVICES HOT WATER HEATER SPECIAL RESIDENTIAL/MULTI-FAMILY Upgrade NOW to a New Efficient Hot Water Heater Is your shower going cold? Do you see rust or water leaking around your current Water Heater? If yes, then it is time to have it replaced. 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