The City Council approved the liquor licenses of all 71 applicants from Woonsocket businesses last night, although only 42 of the facilities have passed the yearly fire marshal's inspection and 15 have yet to provide a Certificate of Good Standing from the state.
The licenses were due to expire on Dec. 1 and letters were sent out to business owners in early September requesting that they provide proof of a fire marshal's inspection; satisfy all payments on tangible taxes, water and sewer fees; and present a Certificate of Good Standing from the state within 30 days. More than 60 days later, 14 city businesses have not scheduled fire inspections.
No one spoke on behalf of the businesses at the public hearing on the matter which was held before the council voted on the approvals. The city typically approves the licenses each year in attempt to provide some leniency for struggling local bars and restaurants.
"We want to be business-friendly," explained City Clerk Andrea Bicki. "I don't think anyone in the city wants to shut down businesses."
As a result, the City Council must schedule a show cause hearing if they seek to revoke the licenses of businesses that do not comply within a reasonable time frame.
"A license technically cannot be revoked without a hearing," Bicki said.
"This part gets frustrating as we go through every year - it's chasing people," said Councilman Daniel Gendron. "I'm voting in favor of this tonight, but I don't think we should have the tolerance that we've displayed in the past."
The fire department has posted a list of where each applicant stands in regard to compliance with the fire code inspection requirement on their website. The following businesses have not yet scheduled an inspection:
*A & M Corp., 103 Mt. St. Charles Ave.
*Thomas Bouckaert, Campus Sport Lounge 80 River Street
*Frenette, Diane, 420 Social Street
*Carmen Nunez, RI 14 Main Street (33 Arnold Street)
*James Court Street Pub, Inc. 136 Court Street
*Monument Tavern, Inc., 81 Allen Street
*Fairmount Post #85 870 River Street
*, Inc. 614 North Main Street
*G & F Pizza, Inc., 294 Mendon Road
*Gaspar, Jose L. Enterprises, 226 St. Louis Avenue
*Pub, Inc., The Our Pad 446 River Street
*St. Joseph Vet. Association 99 Louise Street
*Tyra Club 119 West Street
*Dusamoy, LLC, 83 Main Street
"It's the same few habitual people that do this every year," said Deputy State Fire Marshal Lt. Michael Morin.
"They're fully aware of it," said Fire Chief Gary Lataille.
Bicki said that nearly all of the applicants are up-to-date on their city taxes, but 15 have not turned in a certificate of good standing, a document issued by the state Division of Taxation that verifies all of their income taxes have been paid.
"So far we're actually doing a little better this year than we did last year," Bicki added.
"We've been generous for the last two years," said Council President John Ward before ultimately approving the licenses. "I still object to people not having their certificate of good standing in time."
Ward said that he is hoping to have a council work session geared toward changing the process for future years.