Longer Hours for Liquor Sales Debated By Selectmen

August 23, 2013
by Lynne Ober

Last January the New Hampshire House of Representatives began deliberations on HB 575, a bill that would extend the hours that an establishment selling liquor on its premises could stay open.  As the bill wound its way through the House and then the Senate, it went through a number of changes.

On July 10, 2013 the governor signed the bill into law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2014.  As written it will allow any establishment selling on premise liquor to sell those products between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. if the “legislative body” of the town adopts an ordinance allowing such sales.

Reaction to the bill has been quiet.  When the Area News group queried selectmen, results were varied from no response (Windham) to a wait and see mode.

The Chairman of the Pelham Board of Selectmen, Ed Gleason, also felt that “wait and see” was the proper approach.  Gleason said that so far no establishment had contacted the board about extending hours.  “As Chair, I’m not inclined to do anything unless there’s some feedback from someone in town.  Of course, Police Chief Roark would be also asked to weigh in.  So far he hasn’t.”

In Litchfield, State Representative and Selectman Frank Byron is well aware of the law and he said, “My intention was to bring this up for discussion during the period of town meeting preparation for the board to discuss and see if we wished to move forward with a warrant article.  This is on my list of warrants that I put together over the course of the year as a personal reminder for fall town meeting prep.  This is irrespective of any establishment bringing it forward,” but he also noted that to date the Board of Selectmen have not discusses this bill.

Litchfield Selectman John Brunelle said that the topic would be added to a future agenda for selectmen now that the governor has signed the bill.

In Hudson, only Selectman Roger Coutu responded to queries.  He said he knew the bill has passed, but felt that the board should address the issue with Police Chief Lavoie before taking any other step.

The push for later hours may come in larger cities where there is a population to support staying open for another hour.