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Marlborough's Vin Bin wins key vote

March 10, 2011 – The Vin Bin took a step closer to moving up the road to the former Main Street fire station after a City Council committee supported a petition last night that would give the business a full liquor license.

The store has a license for beer and wine sales. As part of its planned expansion from 27 South Bolton St. to 91 Main St., The Vin Bin wants a license that includes spirits.

Since Marlborough has reached its quota for full liquor licenses, it has to petition the state for another one. The Vin Bin would surrender its wine and malt license if it gets the full version, according to the proposal.

The Legislative and Legal Affairs Committee voted 2-0, with one abstention, to recommend approval of a home-rule petition with revisions. If the full City Council approves the petition, the Legislature and the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission would have to approve it as well.

The Licensing Board supports the license. Board chairman Walter Bonin said the fire station space would be ideal for a liquor store.

“We’re trying to draw people to the downtown area,” he said.

A couple of city liquor businesses have opposed the petition, saying it’s not equitable.

But Bonin said Vin Bin owner Rick Lombardi took the initiative to negotiate with the building’s landlord, WRT Management of Whitinsville. The two sides are still negotiating.

“Anyone could have done the same thing that Mr. Lombardi did,” Bonin said.

Lombardi has said The Vin Bin would rethink the proposed move if it doesn’t get the full license.

Council President Arthur Vigeant said the move would help the downtown, customers, the business and the landlord.

While Mayor Nancy Stevens has said she also supports the home-rule petition, some councilors said they were concerned about specifics of the process and the home-rule petition.

Councilor Steven Levy, who abstained from the vote, said he wants the home-rule petition to clearly state that the license cannot be sold.

The committee, with positive votes from councilors Michael Ossing and Robert Seymour, directed the Legal Department to adjust the petition’s wording. Under possible new language, The Vin Bin could use the license anywhere downtown, not just 91 Main St., in the event that the fire station plan falls through.

Councilor Paul Ferro said he is worried that the council is changing the rules in the middle of the game.

He also said the discussion may not be necessary as the city could receive a ninth full liquor license in about a month. If the city hits a population of 40,000 when the new Census figures come out, it would receive a new full liquor license.

Ferro, who wants the council to hold a public hearing on the proposal, said he does not think a liquor license qualifies as economic development.

Councilors praised the shop as a cut above a standard package store. The Vin Bin also sells specialty foods, including cheeses.

The expanded store could improve the intersection of Main Street and Rte. 85, like the new Marlborough Savings Bank enhanced the intersection of Granger Boulevard and Rte. 85, Councilor Donald Landers said.

Lombardi hopes to open the new store in the summer.

This story originally appeared here