Edwards Opposes Mass. Liquor License Change

Attorney Joseph C. Edwards, chairman of the Haverhill License Commission.

Photo: Attorney Joseph C. Edwards, chairman of the Haverhill License Commission.

A plan to lift restrictions on the numbers of liquor licenses a community may grant is receiving a cool reception from the head of the Haverhill License Commission.

Attorney Joseph C. Edwards, long-time chairman of the Haverhill License Commission, says Haverhill has a manageable number of liquor establishments now. He calls it an issue of public safety.

“Rarely do we have an incident where a minor is sold alcohol so I like things just the way the are now,” he said. He explains it would be difficult to monitor more places and enforce the rules.

Edwards says he disagrees with legislators who think competition will bring prices down to New Hampshire’s level. “We have a pretty high state alcohol tax on all types of alcohol which makes it impossible for us to compete with anyone in the state of New Hampshire.”

“I think we have an adequate, more than an adequate, number of licenses in the Haverhill area now,” he says.

Governor Deval Patrick re-filed legislation last Wednesday that would give local governments across the state to control over the number of liquor licenses in their jurisdiction. Currently, the Commonwealth sets limits for each community. The governor said, “Placing the authority to approve liquor licenses in the hands of municipal officials will allow local communities to make responsible decisions regarding their economic development and growth and free the Legislature from time-consuming local issues.”