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It’s about to get easier to order a drink in Swampscott

SWAMPSCOTT — The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved eight additional all-liquor licenses, which town officials hope will promote more economic development by attracting new businesses.

Last May, Town Meeting members voted to authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court for special legislation allowing the board to issue eight additional all-liquor licenses.

The additional liquor licenses also have to be approved by the state Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker, but officials are hopeful, said Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald.

Last week, the House approved “an act authorizing the town of Swampscott to grant additional liquor licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be drunk on the premises,” a joint petition by state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), mayor-elect of Lynn.

Ehrlich said the town has identified the increase as an urgent and high priority and that she was happy to file a bill and shepherd it through the House.

“It’s great news for the town,” Ehrlich said. “I’m thrilled to step up when needed and hope that this opens the door for economic development and good times … I am happy to have filed this with Sen. McGee and hopeful that he can help the Senate to act on it before the end of the year.”

The increase is meant to provide additional business opportunities in the town’s commercial districts, such as Humphrey Street and Vinnin Square, where eating establishments would like to operate with a liquor license, town officials said.

The town’s 14 existing licenses have all been issued — full liquor licenses are given out by the state based on the population in the town. Swampscott has 14, based on a population of about 14,000 residents, Fitzgerald said.

All-liquor licenses encompass alcohol, mixed drinks, beer, wine and cordials. The town also offers beer and wine licenses, and a temporary beer and wine license, town officials said.

Fitzgerald said the town issued its last full liquor license last spring — a couple of businesses have tried to apply for a license, but the town didn’t have any available. By not having available liquor licenses, he said the town is losing investments and the ability to create jobs and help support economic development.

He said previously that the primary focus of the increase is to attract new businesses to Swampscott.

“A few new restaurants that really would help complement Humphrey Street and Vinnin Square and the MBTA neighborhood would really go a long way to help create the type of investment that would help complement some of the existing businesses and help support the right kind of economic development for Swampscott,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said the town’s great asset is being a beautiful and historic seaside community and that using new restaurants “to help revitalize and inspire the best of what Swampscott has to offer is a great strategic tool for the community.” He said officials are optimistic that the eight additional liquor licenses will be approved.

“It has gone through its first serious vetting and it’s onto the Senate and hopefully, we’ll track that and try to be as supportive as we can,” Fitzgerald said.

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