The Marion Board of Health imposed a cap on the number of tobacco sales licenses at five during its meeting on Tuesday, February 4, at Town Hall.
“What we’re trying to do is decrease the number of cigarette sales, and… to discourage children from smoking,” said Marion Health Director Karen A. Walega shortly after the meeting had adjourned.
Permits were previously capped at six. Existing permits will also expire under a “soft cap”, meaning, if someone acquires a business that holds an existing permit, the new owner will have 60 days to apply for that permit. Another option would have been for the board to impose a hard cap on the number of existing licenses.
Mark Riley, owner of Top of the Hill Liquors on Route 6 in Marion and a town resident, considered it in his best interests to appear before the Board to discuss the matter with members and offer an experienced shop owner’s perspective. He said during the meeting that he had also addressed a public meeting in New Bedford and thinks all communities would be best served if the State of Massachusetts had a statewide law.
“We don’t want to see young people smoking,” said Riley, who fully expects pushback from his distributors. “Marion was one of the first places that went to (age) 21, and it was easy… I wish the state would make it easy… No one under 21 should be allowed to walk into your liquor store.”
There is no law prohibiting minors from entering a liquor store, but they are not allowed to purchase alcohol or tobacco in Massachusetts.
Before the measure was passed, discussion ensued regarding existing permits and if they could be passed when a store selling tobacco relocates within Marion or if a tobacco sales permit remains valid when a business is sold. Riley expressed appreciation for Marion’s stance on deferring to the state where it concerns tobacco.
“It’s upsetting to me if any of the towns that do make any regulation give me an unfair advantage over the town next door. To me, that’s something that needed to be settled on a state basis,” he said.
In other news, public hearings were held and variances granted to two homeowners, both on Point Road. Board of Health member Dot Brown led a detailed discussion in both cases, and Walega, Chairperson John B. Howard and Vice Chairman Edward P. Hoffer, MD all participated.
Brian Grady of GAF Engineering appeared on behalf of Pauline Field, who is preparing her home at 459 Point Road for sale and sought a variance on procedure.
“We couldn’t perform a [percolation] test because the water table was too high. So we took a soil sample to the lab for analysis,” said Grady.
In a second case, David Davignon, the owner of a home at 310 Point Road, argued that the leaching field on his property was an alternative system that saves water. He noted that the amount of water pumped is capped.
“No matter what happens during the day, it’ll only kick out 83 gallons,” he said.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health is scheduled for Tuesday, February 18, at 3:00 pm.
Marion Board of Health
By Mick Colageo