License Board Looking Towards Potential Ban of Alcohol ‘Nips’

By Seth Daniel

Citing trash and creating a public drinking environment, the Everett License Board on Monday night moved forward with a potential citywide ban on selling alcohol ‘nips’ in Everett.

Chair Phil Antonelli said the Board has agreed to issue a letter to all liquor stores and package stores detailing that the City would be prohibiting the sale of ‘nips’ at all licensed locations on Jan. 1, 2019. However, he said, the ban does still have contingencies.

“We as a Board have decided to take the position of putting out a letter that as of Jan. 1, 2019, there will be no more nips allowed,” he said. “We’re going to give them a year and a half to get ready. We’re not just going to lower the boom on them. Any new license granted or any current license operating will not be able to have nips available…That gives them 18 months to prepare.”

The action came after a vote by the City Council some time ago instructed the Board to look into figuring out how to ban the small alcohol bottles known as nips. The rules from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) are a little complicated in regards to banning them, but with the Council behind the Board, rules can be changed at the Council level.

That’s one of the contingencies, Antonelli said.

Following the letter, the Board will ask the City Council to have a public hearing so that store owners and the general public can sound off on the new policy.

Another contingency is a plan floating around at the State Legislature that would tax nip bottles and, perhaps, make them part of the bottle bill. If that were to pass, nips would face an extra tax when purchased, and then would be eligible for a five-cent payment upon return – similar to soda bottles and beer bottles.

It is a measure believed to raise revenues and also to help eliminate the ‘nip’ litter problem.

“We’re going to go forward on the basis of working with the City Council for a hearing and if the State Legislature does not tax the nip bottles, then in Jan. 2019 we’ll go ahead and establish the policy to stop selling nips at all locations in Everett,” he said.

Many in the City have expressed a desire to get rid of nips, as they often send the wrong message by inviting public drinking and littering.

Antonelli said the Board agreed with the premise of the ban, and he said one of the Board members lives near a package store and routinely finds nips on, or in front of, his property.

“The liquor stores are supposed to put them in a bag and people aren’t supposed to drink them until they get home, but what often happens is they want that quick high and they drink them right there and then throw down the nip bottle,” he said. “It is rude and it also creates a public drinking situation…You’re creating an environment where people are drinking in public. That’s not the image we want to portray in Everett. It is for the better.”

Antonelli said the next step would be working to set a date for a public hearing at the City Council once the letters go out to licensees.

In other Licensing Board news:

  • The McDonald’s on Lower Broadway got permission to operate its drive-thru on a 24-hour basis. The restaurant portion of the store would not be open 24 hours, however. Right now, the restaurant and drive-thru close at 3 a.m. Then, at 4:30 a.m., they re-open for the morning business. Board members figured allowed the drive-thru to stay open for the additional 90-minutes made sense on Lower Broadway.
  • Ferry Street Bar & Grill received a new All Alcohol Restaurant License in order for them to expand their business and open for dinner. The restaurant would open from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for dinner service.

“That’s a positive thing because it’s another business growing and looking to expand and serve dinner as well,” said Antonelli.

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