Houlton tables request to hold BYOB events at Rollerama

7 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Town Councilors on Monday evening tabled a proposal that would have approved individual applications for bring-your-own-beverage permits for events at the Maliseet Rollerama in Houlton in the coming weeks. 

Councilors were concerned that the event planners did not have enough security considering the amount of alcohol scheduled to be consumed there, and also were worried that the number of events scheduled could result in the Maliseet Rollerama becoming an “unregulated bar” in the community.

During the more than two-hour meeting, councilors voted to allow the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians to apply to the state’s Division of Liquor Licensing Enforcement to become registered as a bottle club at the Rollerama. Such clubs provide a meeting place for people to drink from their own liquor bottles. The bottle club application, however, is contingent on the North Street facility receiving approval to operate from the state fire marshal’s office.

“They need a fire sprinkler system in the building to do this,” Town Manager Butch Asselin explained. “The Maliseets are working on getting it. Fire marshal approval could come this week. If we don’t get it, the permit doesn’t come.”

Asselin said the bottle club registration would allow the Maliseets to rent out the facility for bring-your-own-beverage events, but that each renter would still have to get authorization and an individual permit from the council before holding it.

The license for the bottle club registration is valid for one year.

Councilor Jane Torres was apprehensive about the idea.

“These bottle clubs can turn into a big problem,” she said. “I heard they turned into a problem last year and the Maliseets stopped doing it.”

The Maliseets also requested a special amusement permit for the Rollerama, also contingent on fire marshal approval. Eventually, the council approved both requests.

Councilors were less hesitant to provide the BYOB permits, however.

Torres wondered how the tribe would provide security at a BYOB event, when people could potentially leave the facility and drive home intoxicated or start fights with others inside or outside the building.

No one from the Maliseet tribe attended Monday night’s meeting.

The councilors checked with Houlton Police Chief Tim Deluca, who said that his department doesn’t currently require security at BYOB events.

“I don’t believe my officers have had any trouble at these events in the past,” he said.

He added that the town could make the tribe hire an officer for security as a condition of granting a permit, especially since the tribe estimated that 300 people would be present at events.

Councilor Brent Dickison, who wanted to ensure the tribe was being treated fairly, noted that not all people who had held BYOB events in the past had been made to hire security.

Asselin said the town could run the issue by legal counsel.

Councilors also were concerned by the number of events that the tribe wanted to have at the Rollerama this year. The tribe had only held a few events last year, while it was planning four BYOB events just from April 29-May 27.

Councilors expressed concern that the facility could end up being another “unregulated bar.” They also had further concerns around liquor enforcement, which led them to table votes on individual permits until a future meeting.