NEWS BRIEFS: Coffee Tables, Outdoor Smoking and Political Endorsements
NORTHAMPTON – Don’t look for tables and chairs outside Starbucks on Main Street here any time soon.
According to regulars and staff at Starbucks, the coffee shop recently learned it has been operating for years without a permit from the Board of Public Works to place tables and chairs on the sidewalk out front. Staffers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said corporate big-wigs at the Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Company are talking to city officials about what it will take to comply with city regulations covering use of city sidewalks. The popular Main Street coffee shop recently closed for several days while workers completely renovated the inside.
Some store patrons said they were upset over the loss of outdoor seating. Efforts to reach a company spokesman and city public works officials over the weekend were unsuccessful. We’ll try again this week.
DA Candidates Tout Endorsements
NORTHAMPTON – The campaign for Northwestern District Attorney candidate Michael A. Cahillane has released an endorsement letter from Sean M. Dunphy, a former three-term mayor of the city and retired judge. In a formal statement circulated Sunday, Dunphy said he has known the candidate for many years and thinks that Cahillane has the skills to bring “new and innovative leadership to that office.”
The endorsement is one of the first in many weeks for Cahillane, 40, a former top prosecutor in DA’s office here who quit earlier this year to ramp up his campaign.
Last week, the campaign of David E. Sullivan, who faces Cahillane in the Sept. 14 Democratic Party primary, announced support from four area legislators: state Senators Stephen Brewer (D-Barre) and Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), and state Reps. Christopher Donelan (D-Orange) and Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). In the past two weeks or so, state Reps. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) and John Scibak (D-South Hadley) came out for Sullivan, as did 40 former Hampden and Hampshire County prosecutors; two area mayors, Easthampton’s Michael Tautznik and Northampton’s Mary Clare Higgins, also recently declared for Sullivan, who has served as register of the Hampshire County Probate and Family Court since 2002.
Cahillane and Sullivan, both Democrats, are vying to replace incumbent longtime DA Elizabeth Scheibel, who said last year she would not seek re-election. Since no Republicans will be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, the primary winner will take over the office in January. The Northwestern District includes Hampshire and Franklin counties, and the Town of Athol.
License Commission to Consider World War II “Club” Wednesday
NORTHAMPTON – Some items of interest on the city’s license commission agenda for Wednesday, Sept. 1 deal with smoking regulations, gunshots at a local bar and the status of a liquor license with no home.
One item is an application for extension of premises by the World War II Club at 50 Conz St. so patrons can drink alcohol and smoke on an outdoor patio. But city officials say the bar-restaurant is not in compliance with city zoning there, and Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck told Northampton Media last week he has given the World War II Veterans Association of Hampshire County Inc. time to either get a zoning change or a ruling that its pre-existing, non-conforming status is OK.
But city Health Agent Benjamin Wood has told the License Commission his reading of the city’s smoking regulations would prevent even outdoor smoking at the club. That idea, expressed in an email to License Commission Clerk Mary Midura last week, could have implications for other establishments that allow outside smoking.
Also on the agenda is an update on the status of the wine and beer license that has been inactive for six months at the Village General Store, at 311 Riverside Drive in the Baystate section of the city. At its May 5 meeting, the commission agreed to give the owners of the store, which closed Feb. 14, 2010, until this fall to find a new owner or risk losing the license altogether. Regulations of the state Alcohol Beverages Control Commission require license-holders to sell or transfer inactive licenses within “a reasonable period,” which commissioners said could force them to revoke the license this fall, when licenses are renewed.
In May, Ms. Judith Jones-Rys told commissioners the owners were having trouble selling the license and leasing the store, according to meeting minutes. City Economic Development Director Teri Anderson spoke against revoking the license, which she said was an economic asset to the city.
Finally, the commission will discuss an Aug. 18 letter from a residential neighbor of the Silk City Tap Room in Florence, who complained about a recent incident involving gunfire outside the bar. The letter, which refers to the 2009 death of a patron there, was sent by the resident, Andrew Munson, to Ward 5 City Councilor David Murphy, who forwarded it to the commission.
The License Commission meeting is set for 4 p.m. in the City Council chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building behind City Hall.