The Edgartown selectmen have suspended an Edgartown package store’s license for 10 days after repeated violations for selling liquor to minors.
The board voted at their meeting Monday to suspend the liquor license for Sophia’s One Stop Mart on Upper Main street from August 15 through August 24, acting on the recommendation of police chief Antone Bettencourt.
During a public hearing, the selectmen heard from Det. Sgt. Chris Dolby about two cases this summer where Sophia’s reportedly sold alcohol to minors. Mr. Dolby said he happened to observe the first incident on June 29, and during an annual compliance check on June 30, a clerk at the store sold beer to a 20-year-old.
Selectmen noted that the store was also reported for two violations last year, receiving a warning and then a stern warning for those infractions.
Marilyn Vukota, the attorney for the market, said that at the time of the two incidents, the store had sent its age verification machine away to exchange it for a new one and were without the machine for about three weeks. Sergio L. Goncalves and manager Paulo Rodrigues were also at the meeting representing the market.
Ms. Vukota said the store has the machine back and has since caught a couple of underage drinkers. “They are doing everything they can, they don’t want to serve underage drinkers,” she said. “They’re doing the best they can.”
She asked that the store be able to serve its suspension in the off-season.
Mr. Dolby said that he had heard from a clerk that the store had never purchased an identification checker, and there is one record of the store calling the police abut an ID.
“Other places are working very diligently; they’re on top of it,” Mr. Dolby said. “I don’t see that from this store.”
Mr. Bettencourt advocated for the suspension to take place during the summer. I think we need to say this isn’t going to happen anymore,” he said. “And as far as doing it off-season, I don’t agree with that, either. This is the height of the season; this is when business is busier and they need to learn to check a little better.”
Selectman Margaret Serpa agreed. “Most of the violations probably occur this time of year when there are more young people around trying to buy alcohol,” she said.
The board voted unanimously to suspend the license in August.
In other business, the selectmen signed a revised self-help agreement to facilitate the restoration of an airplane hangar at the Katama Airfield; the process has been slowed because of conservation restrictions on the property.
Conservation agent Jane Varkonda said that through town counsel, an agreement has been made with The Nature Conservancy to allow for the expansion of the hangar, which was built in 1945. The agreement would remove 2.02 acres from conservation-restricted land and give back a two-to-one land swap, putting a restriction on five acres of land off Pennywise Path. The agreement would also further restrict the remaining 12.5 acres of the airfield.
In the mid-1980s, the town joined with the state and The Nature Conservancy under the state self-help program to purchase the airfield and more than 100 surrounding acres of land, which was placed under a conservation restriction. The restriction prohibits any footprint expansion of existing buildings, among other things. In 2010, town voters approved a revision of the conservation restriction, but the state Department of Conservation Services later rejected the agreement.
Ms. Varkonda said The Nature Conservancy and town counsel are happy with the agreement, and the conservation commission approved it last week.
But airfield commissioners Bob Stone and Fred B. Morgan Jr. advised the selectmen not to sign the agreement, saying they felt the agreement was too prohibitive. “I’m telling you, don’t accept this until The Nature Conservancy relaxes their grip,” Mr. Stone said. “They are being unreasonable.”
“You’ve got a hanger that’s a disgrace, anyone that sees will tell you,” said Mr. Morgan. “It’s not only a disgrace to the town, it should be a disgrace to The Nature Conservancy to allow this to happen on land for which they’re responsible. All we’re trying to do is replace it.”
Ms. Varkonda said she thinks the issues have been worked out. “[The Nature Conservancy] did rear their ugly head for a brief moment, but the head got chopped off,” she said.
“I think we have to move in the direction of trying to resolve this,” said Mrs. Serpa.
“I hear the commissioners loud and clear,” said selectman and board chairman Michael Donaroma. “I’m in the landscape business and I have to deal with some of my clients who have land that is part of or abutting the Nature Conservancy control. It’s the world we live in now . . . it’s the environment and that’s their job.”
The selectmen voted to sign the agreement, and said there will be further meetings with the selectmen, the conservation commission, town counsel and the airfield commission.
The selectmen also approved a one-day liquor license for Morning Glory Farm for a special event this weekend, but not without reservations. Town administrator Pamela Dolby said the farm is required to go before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission in order to host events beyond the annual strawberry and pumpkin festivals, and they are required to serve only items that are grown or made on the farm.
The selectmen noted that they’ve approved special licenses in the past, with the understanding that they were supposed to be the last ones, and that they felt their hands were tied because this weekend’s event was already planned. The selectmen added that they have concerns about parking, and that the farm is located in a residential area.
“If I’m going to approve this it is going to be last one,” Mrs. Serpa said. “I don’t appreciate us being put in the position of having to approve something because it’s already this far underway. For the second time.”
The selectmen approved a liquor license for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, with the stipulation that guests leave the premises by 8:30 p.m.