PIC, Generations victim of changing policy

THE PLYMOUTH INTERGENERATIONAL COALITION is the latest group to learn one of the basic lessons of democratic government.

That is, what one governing body might have done in the past doesn’t mean the same governing body will do again now, or in the future.

The case in point is PIC’s application for a class B retail beer and liquor license to the Plymouth City Council.

After the council several years ago reversed a long-standing policy and issued licenses to sell and/or serve mixed drinks on premises to a pair of non-profit groups – the Elks Club and the Plymouth Arts Center – PIC decided to apply for the city’s last remaining license for their Generations inter-generational center building.

The idea was to be able to rent the facility to groups hoping to hold large gatherings – wedding receptions, class reunions, business meetings and the like – and serve liquor to those attending.

Unfortunately for PIC, the uniqueness of their facility mitigated against their efforts to obtain a license.

The state law governing liquor licenses delineates social organizations and arts/performing arts centers among the specific groups which are eligible to receive liquor licenses.

But the same law also prohibits issuing a license to an establishment within close proximity of a school or church – for good reason.

The problem is that the Generations building houses not one but two groups that could be considered schools – the Head Start program and the Growing Generations day care – and is also used by a church group for weekly gatherings.

State lawmakers never envisioned such a multipurpose, multi-generational community facility when they wrote the liquor laws, so they never made provision to allow for an exemption for such a facility. And now Generations, and PIC, have fallen victim to their uniqueness.

There were, certainly, other reasons why some on the council voted not to grant PIC the license. It is the last license the city has to issue – until the population of the city breaks 8,500 – and some on the council would like to see it kept available for a restaurant or other commercial business that might want it in the near future.

Some on the council – who were not on the council when city policy was changed to allow non-commercial entities to obtain a license – might like to see a return to a policy of granting class B licenses only to for-profit business ventures.

And some on the council wanted to limit the encroachment on private businesses who cater to group events by non-profit agencies looking to compete with them.

Whatever the reason, this council decided by a margin of just two votes it was time to change the policy revision that was adopted just a few short years ago.

For PIC and Generations, the timing could not have been worse.

At issue:
Denied liquor license
Bottom line:
Council changed course

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