If you’re under 21, you can’t sit in town bars

Feb 12, 2020 by

Published February 12, 2020


LYNNFIELD — Beginning next month, minors will be prohibited from sitting at barstools in the town’s restaurants and clubs.

The Board of Selectmen approved a new regulation on Monday that bans people under the age of 21 from sitting at bars in the town’s various restaurants and clubs. The board approved the policy change because it is the town’s liquor licensing authority.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan recalled that the selectmen requested approving the new regulation last month. The board asked Town Counsel Tom Mullen to craft the new rules in the wake of the Ninety-Nine Restaurant informing both Dolan and Selectman Dick Dalton that the Salem Street eatery was against the proposed change.

“This will immediately address the issue of one restaurant in town that has been unwilling to join the other restaurants in not allowing children to sit at the bar proper,” said Dolan. “This regulation will not apply to the high-top seats in the bar area.”

Dolan said the new regulation will go into effect on Sunday, March 1, which he said will allow the town to “give proper notice” to the various restaurants and clubs.

“We will then begin proper enforcement,” said Dolan.

In response to a question from Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford, Dolan said a general bylaw prohibiting minors from sitting at barstools will be crafted for April Town Meeting.

Dalton expressed his support for the regulation change.

“I have gone through it and it’s exactly how Tom outlined it,” said Dalton.

After the discussion, the selectmen unanimously approved the new regulation.

According to the new rules, “any restaurant, club or other facility where a bar is operated under a liquor license issued by the board pursuant to General Laws Chapter 138, it shall be unlawful for the licensee to permit any person under the age of 21 to be seated at the bar at any time.” Clubs and restaurants will be required to post one or more signs outlining the regulation in a “plainly visible” area.

With the selectmen approving the new regulation, April Town Meeting will now be asked to approve a general bylaw prohibiting minors from sitting at bars. Mullen recently told the selectmen approving a general bylaw at Town Meeting does not require a two-thirds vote that changes to the Zoning Bylaw require.

“I find it hard to believe that you are going to get a majority in opposition to something that is unobjectionable like this,” said Mullen.

The Police Department will be tasked with enforcing the new regulation as well as the new bylaw if Town Meeting approves it. If establishments violate the new rules, they will be fined $300.

Mullen recently told the selectmen that the Ninety-Nine could file a lawsuit challenging the new regulation and the proposed bylaw.

“I don’t think that argument would work because it’s clear that as the liquor licensing board, you have the authority to have reasonable regulations,” said Mullen. “I don’t see anything unreasonable about this at all.”

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