FARMINGTON — Selectmen plan to meet again in June with the owners of Front Street Tavern, having received repeated reports that the bar is creating a public safety hazard by allegedly overserving alcohol to its patrons.

The board first met with owners Charles Williams and Bruce Hanson along with their attorney, Paul Mills, on Feb. 12 to address concerns about the tavern. Police reported that some people served at Front Street Tavern were leaving the bar intoxicated and committing crimes including driving under the influence and assault.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the board “wants to make sure they understand the gravity of the situation” and plans to stress its continued concern about the ongoing problems at the June 11 meeting.

Davis said town officials are concerned that the public is at risk when intoxicated people drive or commit assault, for example.

Hanson said he thinks the town’s concerns are without basis and said his bar is being singled out by the police and is under more intense scrutiny than other town businesses that serve liquor.

He said he thinks he can’t call the police if there is a problem at or near the bar because it will go on the record and be counted against him as another incident involving tavern patrons. As the biggest bar in town, he said, the business has a higher volume of people drinking compared to the others. He added that the town should take into consideration that none of the police incidents occurred in the tavern.

The servers at Front Street Tavern plan to attend server training Monday, Hanson said, as requested by the selectmen the last time they met.

So far this year, Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck said, police have responded to nine incidents of an intoxicated person who allegedly had been overserved alcohol at the tavern.

The incidents include four people charged with operating under the influence, a man intoxicated and cursing in the street, an assault involving two females, an argument in the tavern’s parking lot, and an intoxicated man found lying down on Farmington Falls Road. One of the people charged with OUI also was charged with stealing a car.

Peck said there were few incidents of intoxication involving patrons of other businesses so far this year.

Last year, police went to 20 incidents involving intoxicated people who allegedly had been served at the Front Street Tavern, Peck said. There were six incidents in which a person was served at another location, and one in which a person was served at a third location, he said.

The Front Street Tavern’s liquor license was renewed Jan. 31. Liquor licenses are renewed yearly after a business is approved by police, fire and code enforcement departments as well as the town manager.

Davis sent a letter to the owners, saying the license was renewed despite town officials’ reservations because of reports of the bar allegedly overserving. Davis said in the letter that the town will document incidents of overserving, and the bar will need to show significant progress in reducing the number of incidents. The town has the right to revoke the bar’s liquor license at any time, he wrote.

The town also sent the owners a copy of a letter from town attorney Frank Underkuffler saying police reports indicate a pattern of overserving at the bar.

On Feb. 12, the selectmen met with the owners, and Peck listed the police calls about an intoxicated person allegedly having been served at the bar. At the same meeting, selectmen also voted to change their liquor license renewal policy to require business owners to attend a public hearing with the board before being granted a renewal.

On Tuesday, the selectmen voted 4–1 to reverse the decision. The renewal process reverted to the original process, which requires owners to appear only if the board decides a problem needs to be addressed.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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