HAVERHILL — The city’s Licensing Commission is evaluating applications from eight businesses vying for two available full liquor licenses that would allow the sale of hard liquor in addition to beer and wine.
The process involves scheduling public hearings followed by the commission’s selection of the top two nominees, whose nominations would then be submitted to the state liquor board for review and final approval.
One of the new licenses became available due to an increase in population and the other is the result of an in-house motion filed years ago to request an additional license and whose commission had only recently become aware.
“We thought the petition was included in our quota, but it wasn’t until last year that the information provided to us indicated that it was not part of our quota but was separate,” said City Clerk Linda Koutoulas. “Because we weren’t at our limit, we were missing a license.”
In addition to the two full liquor licenses available, the commission also made available a single beer and wine license, which no one asked for, Koutoulas said.
The commission issued a notice in January saying it would accept preliminary off-premises liquor license applications based on 2020 federal census counts.
Applications had to be received between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28, according to the announcement.
The Commission has received preliminary applications from Ramjodi Corp. doing business as (dba) Riley’s Corner at 352 Washington St., with manager Kanaiyalal Seendhabhai Patel; Andy Inc., dba Andy’s Liquors, 864 Broadway, with manager Ramila Patel; Map Inc., dba Minute Mart, 233 Winter St., with director Mahavir Patel; Wang’s Brothers Spirits LLC, dba Wang’s Liquors (proposed for 38 Washington St.) with manager Tian Yang Wang; Kaknes Enterprises Inc., dba K’s Fuel Stop, 297 Lincoln Ave., with director Paul Kaknes; A. Saini Group Inc., dba Racing Mart, 402 Amesbury Road, with manager Sohan Saini; OM MobilMart 2 Inc., dba Mobil Mart, 401 Amesbury Road, with manager Sapna Patel, and 2030 Ocean Street LLC, dba Wine & Market, 86 Essex St., with manager Daniel Newcomb.
The commission considered the nominations at extraordinary meetings on March 7 and 14, but then sent a letter to the candidates noting that procedural errors had been made at the March 14 meeting, in particular that the commission had not not granted an audience to each candidate at the meeting. as required by state law. The error will be corrected at a special meeting scheduled for April 11, according to commission member Laura Angus.
Commission Chairman Joseph Edwards said the criteria for selecting a business for a license include knowledge of the retail business, not having had problems in the past, such as selling underage drinking, and having a location in town that would benefit the community.
“These full liquor licenses are coveted because there is a huge selection of liquor available, from pinches to gallons of vodka,” Edwards said.
Koutoulas said the next step is for applicants to pay the required fee, noting that a public notice would contain relevant information about the company and details about the public hearing.
Each candidate would also receive a list of scorers.
At public hearings, candidates are expected to discuss their proposals, followed by public comments. The commission would then be expected to select the two applicants it believes best meet its licensing criteria. Selected applicants would be forwarded to the state liquor control board for review and approval.
Koutoulas said any plaintiff who decides to file an appeal will cause a delay in the process.
Edwards said companies that receive licenses will be prohibited from selling those licenses to other companies for at least a year.
“We are looking for someone who has an interest in using their license for the benefit of the city,” he said.