Southenders against beer and wine for Berkeley St. 7-Eleven

A well-attended abutters meeting was held on Feb. 19 regarding a proposed beer-and-wine license for the 7-Eleven located at 55 Berkeley St. in the South End.
Attorney Liz Lashway, on behalf of the owners of the franchise, said that this store has been under the applicant’s ownership for 14 years, and the goal of the license would be to “offer convenience to the neighborhood,” as she said the owners have been asked numerous times by customers where they can buy beer or wine in the area.
The owners intend to have a refrigerated section with four coolers as well as a shelf for the wine and beer. No liquor would be permitted with this license, and beer-and-wine sales would abide by state law and end at 11 p.m., though the store itself is open 24 hours.
Lashway said that the owners do have control over what they sell, and would be willing to place a condition on the license to not sell any single-serve bottles or cans of beer or wine. They also said they would be willing to listen to the public about what types of beer and wine they would like to see in the store.
A resident who lives in an apartment directly above the 7-Eleven at 9 Appleton St. said that his infant daughter “sleeps right above the cash register,” and has several concerns with this proposal.
“Alcohol sales, for me, prompt illicit behavior,” he said. “Smoke comes in our windows all the time from people loitering.” He said he believes the addition of alcohol sales to this location will increase already existing issues with noise and traffic, as well as people hanging around the building. McGee also distributed a survey to his neighbors in the apartment building, and reported that out of 37 units, 23 of them were opposed to this. He did, however, thank the owners for keeping existing issues at bay.
Bruce Percelay of the Revolution Hotel said “7-Eleven can be an uncomfortable place to be at certain hours.” He also said that the hotel gets frequent calls about what goes on in the neighborhood.
“I think you’re just pouring gasoline on the fire,” he said of the proposal. He suggested that maybe something like craft beer or wine that is sealed with a cork might change the dynamic. But having beer and wine at 7-Eleven is “not exactly an enhancement to this neighborhood,” he added.
One resident said he has concerns about people “brown-bagging” and sitting on his stoop, as this is already an issue with food and soft drinks from the store.
Another neighbor agreed that the owners have been responsive to complaints and issues in the past, and though she is neutral to the idea, she respects the fact that many of her neighbors are against it.
One neighbor asked what would happen should the license be granted and the issues of loitering and noise get worse. Mayor’s Liaison Faisa Sharif said that while licenses are harder to take away than they are to give, if the owners do not make changes in response to complaints, they will be penalized.
After hearing all of this feedback from residents, the owners said at the abutters meeting that they still wanted to move forward with a licensing hearing. Sharif said that the biggest factor for the Licensing Commission is determining the public need for a license like this, in addition to public feedback. This matter is not yet on a licensing agenda, but when it is it will be posted on the City of Boston website and the public is welcome to attend the hearing.

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