At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Monday, March 6, the selectmen voted to take steps toward revising the town ordinance on the Sale of Liquor in Restaurants (Chapter 8 Article III Section 8-8). They voted to move forward after hearing a recommendation two weeks earlier from the Economic Development Commission (EDC) to extend hours that Wilton restaurants can serve liquor.
At the BoS meeting on Feb. 21, Vivian Lee-Shiue, the chair of the EDC, explained that Wilton’s local liquor sales ordinance was more restrictive on restaurants than the state’s ordinance, and was seen to hamper not only current restaurant business but also prospective new businesses from considering Wilton as a possible location. She noted that surrounding towns, including Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, New Canaan, Westport and Norwalk all allowed longer hours than Wilton for restaurants to serve and sell liquor.
Changing the ordinance would extend Monday-Thursday hours from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. in Wilton to 9 a.m.-1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday hours would increase from 11 a.m.-midnight in Wilton to 9 a.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday hours would grow from noon-11 p.m. in Wilton to 10 a.m.-1 a.m..
Lee-Shiue said that the EDC recommended the town default to the state’s hours.
She told the selectmen that there was anecdotal support for the change from residents and restaurants alike. “When you mention it on social media, they’re very excited about it,” Lee-Shiue said about residents, adding, ‘The restaurants are supportive of it, if they get one night, they’ve already a positive. It’s not going to make a huge difference, but why put Wilton at a disadvantage when all the other neighboring towns don’t restrict.”
When it came time for the vote on March 6, the selectmen noted that their vote accepting the EDC’s recommendation would mean that they were now required to get feedback from residents at a public hearing, and based on that feedback, they would draft an ordinance change. That change would then be put to a vote at the May 2 Annual Town Meeting for residents to consider.
The selectmen set the public hearing on the restaurant liquor sales ordinance for Monday, March 27, to follow immediately after the 7:30 p.m. Board of Finance’s public hearing on the selectmen’s budget. That meeting will take place at Middlebrook auditorium.