Seacoast Shores Association Meets Opposition in Bid for Club Liquor License

The Seacoast Shores Association came under fire on Monday evening last week for the potential impact a liquor license at its clubhouse would have on the neighborhood and the safety of its residents.

The debate on whether to grant an all-alcoholic club license to the association came up at the selectmen’s meeting when some Seacoast Shores residents expressed concern it would alter the character of this section of Falmouth.

Last year the association completed a $1.2 million renovation of its clubhouse at 7 Fairview Lane, and is in the midst of adding a swimming pool, tennis courts and improving the parking area. With the new clubhouse the association applied for and received 30 one-day liquor licenses, the maximum they can receive by law in a calendar year, last summer.

Last week attorney Stephen J. McLaughlin was before the board to obtain a permanent license that would allow the association to pour liquor at its clubhouse.

He said the association has approximately 300 members of the roughly 900 homes in Seacoast Shores.

Because of the substantial investments made by the association in the clubhouse, he said, the liquor license is essential for it to operate.

Selectman Douglas H. Jones was the first to raise questions about the manager for the clubhouse, Arlene Schubert, and whether it was a conflict for her to serve in that capacity while also being on the board of directors for the association.

Mr. McLaughlin said Ms. Schubert has been a vital member of the association and has also been instrumental in helping it move forward in operating the clubhouse. “When she takes on a project she does everything from soup to nuts, A through Z,” he said.

If it is a concern to selectmen, he said, they could take her off the board of directors.

Questions About Club Manager

Acting Chairman Brent V.W. Putnam later brought up a letter from Falmouth Police Lieutenant Brian L. Reid who had concerns about Ms. Schubert serving as the manager as she lists Shorewood, Minnesota, as her primary residence. Mr. Putnam wondered how she could handle the responsibilities as manager if the clubhouse operates the license year-round.

Mr. Putnam also questioned granting a liquor license in a residentially zoned area. Though there is a similarity in Falmouth Heights, Mr. Putnam said, the businesses there are zoned properly to served food and liquor. “There is no precedent for this,” he said. “I have some reservations about that.”

“If it is year-round we will bring in another person to act as the direct manager,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Robert L. Barker, president of the association, later noted that they were in negotiations to find a full-time manager should they receive the liquor license.

Mr. Putnam also questioned granting a liquor license in a residentially zoned area. Though there is a similarity in Falmouth Heights, Mr. Putnam said, the businesses there are zoned properly to served food and liquor. “There is no precedent for this,” he said. “I have some reservations about that.”

Mr. McLaughlin deflected these concerns by noting that the association is made up of members of the neighborhood whereas in Falmouth Heights they have outsiders come in who “may disregard the people in that neighborhood.” This is a different situation, he said, in that those using the clubhouse want to ensure it does not detract from the neighborhood and negatively impact those living in it.

As to whether the club would be open throughout the year, Mr. McLaughlin said, there is potential that could happen once the association completes the entire clubhouse project.

Association Losing Members

The first to speak against granting the license was Winnifred Woods of Sachem Drive, who said that membership in the association has dropped because a number of residents cannot afford the fees. Just under half of the 900 homes in Seacoast Shores, she said, are valued at $250,000 or under.

She urged selectmen to visit the clubhouse to get a sense of both the neighborhood and the facility, which is located at the end of a nearly mile-and-a-half long stretch of road where 120 homes are situated. She worried the liquor license would increase traffic on the Seacoast Shores peninsula where there are only three stop signs, one of which is at the intersection of Seacoast Shores Boulevard and Route 28, and where there have been several bad accidents in recent years, including one fatality.

By introducing alcohol into the equation, she said, “we will be making even more of a problem.”

The clubhouse, she said, would also increase truck traffic in Seacoast Shores to deliver food and liquor, and possibly add to vehicular traffic with the possibility that the facility may be rented out to those not living in the neighborhood.

Bertha C. Manson of Pershing Drive, Seacoast Shores, also urged selectmen to deny the request. “I don’t want drinking and driving in my neighborhood,” she said. “I don’t want to see people dying from drunk drivers.”

“I don’t think the association is condoning drinking and driving,” Mr. Putnam said.

After the public comments Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn said it would be wise to take the matter under advisement and follow Ms. Woods’s recommendation and visit the clubhouse.

“I’m certainly agreeable to that,” Mr. Putnam said.

The board agreed unanimously to continue the hearing until its Monday, March 4, meeting, placing it on the agenda for 7:30 PM.

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