A petition, in the form of a Google Form, is circulating on social media that asks the City of Newport to reject an ordinance expanding the number of license in Newport.

The petition, titled “Support Local Businesses by Maintaining The Cap on Newport Liquor Licenses”, comes after the lawyer for Hammetts Wharf and The Brenton Hotel approached Newport City Council about increasing the number of Class BT alcoholic beverage licenses by two.

Tavern licenses (also referred to as a Class BT) are for operations with reasonable sleeping accommodations as well as kitchens properly equipped and in use, they are tied to the property and can not be transferred or sold.

Castle Hill Inn, Chanler At Cliff Walk, Forty 1 North, Vanderbilt, Hotel Viking, Mainstay Inn, Newport Marriott, Ocean Cliff, The Port, Salt Water, Surf Club, and Gurney’s Newport Restort & Marina all operate under a Class BT License.

Turner Scott, the lawyer for the hotels, has requested that the first reading of the ordinance change by Newport City Council be moved from August 14th to September 11th.

The petition, which says it was created “inside of Scales & Shells”, states;

“40 years ago the City Council of Newport issued a freeze on new liquor licenses in order to help Newport thrive as both a vibrant destination for visitors & a sustainable community for year round residents. There have been a variety of City Council committees over the past 40 years, ranging from progressive to conservative, who have all agreed that maintaining this cap is the best decision for Newport residents and the Newport hospitality industry alike.

As you are most likely aware, there are two large hotels currently under development in downtown Newport. We welcome the healthy competition from the waterfront bars and restaurants that they are proposing as part of their business models. However, we do ask that these corporations are held to the same standard as all local business owners and that they participate in the free market that the Newport City Council created 40 years ago when they instituted the freeze.

Currently, there are 116 Newport liquor licenses issued with multiple of those dormant and at least two available for purchase. The contact info of the owners of available licenses has been given to the representatives of the hotels. Instead of purchasing one of these available liquor licenses and supporting Newport’s hospitality industry, the hotel groups feel entitled to ask the City Council to overturn a 40 year ruling and give them each a liquor license.

The current value of a Newport liquor license is approximately $400,000. These corporations are putting millions of dollars into their hotels, yet they are not willing to purchase an available liquor license, a process that has been required of all the restaurants and hotels before them.

If the City Council approves this ordinance, it will devalue the liquor licenses currently held by local businesses. Many of these businesses are owned and operated by your neighbors. At the City Council meeting on August 14th, you’ll hear about Newport residents who have taken out loans to purchase a liquor license and have used their homes as collateral against them. If the City Council sides with the large corporations and grants the issuance of two new liquor licenses, there are very real and scary consequences for these members of our community.

Help us protect the value of local businesses and their ability to continue serving our community by asking the City Council of Newport to hold these corporations to the same standards and existing regulations to which it holds its own residents. Please sign below to ask the City of Newport to reject an ordinance expanding the number of licenses in Newport”.

See The Petition Here

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).