By JOHN HOWELL
Alex Colazzo envisions introducing some more hospitality to City Centre with a high end tavern and cigar bar. Alisha Covill, whose front door is across Kilvert Street, 42 feet away …
By JOHN HOWELL
Alex Colazzo envisions introducing some more hospitality to City Centre with a high end tavern and cigar bar. Alisha Covill, whose front door is across Kilvert Street, 42 feet away to be precise, from the establishments has another view of what Colazzo’s plan will mean. She imagines cars parked in front the three tenement home, late night parties and music and trouble.
Covill and her neighbor voiced their fears to the Board of Public Safety, yet the board approved a liquor license for 1776 Hospitality LLC on April 12. The decision was based largely on the fact that while the establishments - two buildings connected by a porch about 10 feet apart – abut a longtime child daycare, that fewer than 50 percent of the property owners within a 200 foot radius objected. The 50 percent is calculated on land area and does not take into consideration tenants. Wonder Kids Early Learning Center does not own the property it has occupied for decades on Alhambra Street and the landowner was not among those objecting.
Then one of the landowners who questioned the development failed to formally register his objection thereby nullifying the objectors’ belief they had meet the 50 percent threshold.
Now the attention is focused on the 50 percent.
Covill argues that actually more than 70 percent of the land owners objected to the license. She and attorney Joseph Brennan who appeared at the board hearing reason Amtrak - the tracks run beside the proposed establishment and the Covill property – should not be included in the calculation. Brennan questions if city and state roads are not part of the calculation why should Amtrak be counted.
Under the law, liquor licenses are denied no questions asked if a house of worship or school grades K-12 are within the 200 foot radius. The law does not take into consideration child day care centers or preschools.
Colazzo is not a stranger to the area.
He opened the Jefferson Speakeasy across the tracks on Jefferson Boulevard about nine months ago. The speakeasy is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. As Colazzo explains, the emphasis is on hospitality and a place where people are welcome, feel safe and enjoy each others company. He plans to have the tavern and cigar bar open six to seven days a week. He said the capacity is about 50 people and called those frequenting the cigar bar “members.”
There would be no wi-fi or televisions focused on sporting events.
“This is not a sports bar,” he stresses nor is he looking to pack the place offering low cost drinks.
“I’m looking to provide a change of pace to drinking,” he said. The tavern will offer a wide selection of fine liquors and craft beers. Colazzo aims to have the two establishments open by the end of May.
That could be a challenge.
As of Wednesday, Colazzo had not filed for any permits required for the renovations he has planned. He had filed for a certificate of occupancy at 84 Kilvert, but that had not been issued. Apart from any appeal by objecting neighbors, Colazzo is faced with another issue. While the board granted a license for 84 Kilvert, which at one time was a bar operating as Track 84 it did not consider 86 Kilvert Street that for many years operated as the Sandwich Junction. Colazzo believes the license covers both buildings; objectors don’t.
Might Colazzo be required to get a second license for 86 Kilvert Street?
Col. Bradford Connor said the Police Department ran a check on calls when Track 84 operated. He said over the period checked there were no complaints relating to Track 84 even though there were multiple police responses to the neighborhood. Assistant City Solicitor Kerry Rafanelli, counsel to the board, said the local board considers if the liquor license application meets requirements of the law and that it is the state that issues the license. He couldn’t say whether the railroad would come under the definition of a right of way, but said Amtrak is a landowner.
“The dilemma is that one of the objectors didn’t sign up,” he said.
Covill isn’t happy. Although the Hillsgove neighborhood is a mix of retail, manufacturing and service industry space she points out there is a large component of residential. She said there are 37 children within the immediate vicinity of the proposed establishment. She questions Colazzo’s description of a refined and mature clientele and believes a tavern and cigar bar will only bring trouble.
The board’s decision has been appealed to the licensing division of the Department of Regulation. As Brennan works with House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, he will not represent the objectors before a state agency.
The question whether a city, state or federal highway is used in calculating property ownership within the 200 radius of a liquor license applicant and might this also apply to Amtrak was not answered by the state. A spokeswoman for the DBR said the division of licenses had no comment since the matter is under litigation.
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