As we predicted earlier, in last week’s council meeting, the City council finally put a stop to the acquisition of #1 Liquor business on Route 1, reversing its own 2009 decision.
The political drama surrounding the council decision leaves one wondering what happened over the past two years that has led to this U-turn decision.
The interesting part of the unfolding of this event is that at least two council members who reversed their earlier 2009 opinion had to scramble to give a good reason for their reversing decision. Facing a November re-election challenge, they kept their explanation saying that opposition from their constituents was the main reason.
I think the 2009 council, led by then Mayor Brayman went for an ambitious or even a rather extreme goal in their resolution by using the eminent domain option. “Use all actions necessary to proceed with condemnation” – the resolution asked the City.
They could have kept the resolution language at the “arm – length” negotiation level only.
The eminent domain option was included in 2009 resolution as a last ditch option, in case the negotiation with the owner fails; yet it gave its opponents several ammunitions to convince other residents on this subject.
Many residents took this option as a rather forceful one, especially when the option was targeted to a privately owned city business. To these residents, the city was going after a legitimate business wanting to shut it down. As one resident said: “let’s keep #1 Liquor in business“.
Loss of tax from the business was also an important factor to some, even though the yearly amount the City receives from the business is no more than $1200. Also, this tax factor was a moot point since it was quite possible that the business could be relocated somewhere in the city.
I think without the mention of eminent domain option in its 2009 resolution, the council had a better chance in keeping the negotiation going with #1 Liquor. In the mean time, the City will probably have to lose State’s Open Space Fund and let another town to make its good use.