There is room for more bars and night clubs in Haverhill, but not near homes where people want to sleep at night.
That is according to a critic of a proposal to add 40 liquor licenses to Haverhill's total — a plan that some feared would open the door to many more bars with loud late-night clienté®le.
Mayor James Fiorentini cut the proposal to 10 new licenses and City Council approved it, but with a warning: The licenses should go to restaurants instead of noisy bars.
Since then, Councilor William Macek, a critic of the plan for 40 new licenses, said bars and night clubs are welcome to move into Haverhill. But he stressed they should be away from homes — especially the hundreds of apartments and condos which have moved into old factories downtown.
"Restaurants are what we prefer in the downtown area," Macek said. "(Nightclubs) that are located on the outskirts of the city might be a different circumstance."
Last week, the council unanimously approved Mayor James Fiorentini's proposal to increase the number of liquor licenses in Haverhill from 60 to 70. His original proposal was to jump the number from 60 to 100.
Macek said each restaurant should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
"We need to be cautious of the other residential units that are nearby," he said.
The city has had issues with night clubs in the past, particularly downtown. In past summers, there have been complaints from people living downtown about bar customers emptying out into the streets at closing time and causing noise problems, sometimes violence.
John Fahimian, owner of the Tap restaurant and bar downtown, said he believes many people who visit the downtown aren't looking for a bite to eat.
"They come for entertainment,'' he said. "Because of the recession, many people can't afford to go out to eat."
Fahimian's Tap restaurant serves food during the day and early evening, before focusing on its bar business at night.
Fahimian said that he does support the city adding liquor licenses, but would like to see them go to restaurants with the best chance of being "successful."
"I encourage it if it is done responsibly,'' he said of allowing more establishments to serve liquor.
Macek said the council made a similar increase in liquor licenses 10 years ago and it took until just now for all the licenses to be filled.
The recent proposal from the city's License Commission and mayor asked for the council to grant 40 additional licenses — bumping the total up to 100, enough to last the city for years. But councilors said the number was too much and the mayor cut it to 10 additional licenses.
"We have 10 additional licenses for now and if we use that allotment then we will attempt to apply for some more,'' Macek said. "There is no cap for how many we can have."
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