Town looks to update license laws for entertainment, restaurants

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BURRILLVILLE – Town Clerk Louise Phaneuf doesn’t get a lot of requests for entertainment licenses for rope and wire dancing performers.

Wrestling, sparring matches, balls and promotion of public roller skating rinks are also pretty uncommon forms of entertainment in Burrillville in 2018.

But the obscure activities were still covered in the town ordinance, an issue town officials are hoping to remedy next week when they consider adopting amendments to the laws addressing businesses and licenses.

The town will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes at their meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

“There’s nothing really new there but it’s the practices that we’ve been following that we wanted to codify,” said Phaneuf. “They’re taking out language that was really archaic. It puts in a better explanation of what we, in 2018, consider entertainment.”

The process, Phaneuf notes, will remain the same, with those seeking entertainment licenses filing an application with the clerk that includes a written recommendation from the Burrillville Police Department, then obtaining permission from the Town Council. Fees will remain the same.

“There’s nothing very far reaching here,” she said.

Gone, however, will be the language in Chapter 8 of the town code that states, “No person shall publicly, or for pay, or for any profit or advantage to himself, exhibit or promote or take part in any theatrical performance, or rope or wire dancing, or other show or performance, or conduct, engage in or promote any wrestling, boxing, or sparring match, or exhibition, nor shall any person for any pecuniary profit or advantage to himself, promote any public roller skating rinks or halls or give any dance or ball, without a license from the town council for the town.”

Town officials also hope to add a new section covering victualing – the annual license process for town restaurants.

“We have always had to have food licensing for all our restaurants and we’ve never had an ordinance that tells us how to do it,” Phaneuf said. “When people come in, we want something clear, and in writing. I always think about the restauranteurs. When someone comes in with a new restaurant you have to have something that helps them.”

The annual licenses expire en masse each November 30, and are taken up at a single meeting by the town board, along with liquor licenses. In Burrillville, businesses serving drinks also require victualing.

Because all licensing is done through the clerk’s office, Phaneuf herself was involved in drafting the new language.

The clerk notes that Burrillville requires less licensing than most communities in the state, and typically only has a process for the things required by Rhode Island law or that are, “in the interest of health safety and comfort.”

The town also charges far less for licensing fees. The victualing license, Phaneuf said, costs hundreds in some communities, but is a mere $10 for the year in Burrillville.

Complete language in the proposed ordinances can be found here.

The public hearings on the proposed changes will be held in the Burrillville Town Building at 105 Harrisville Main Street on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 in a meeting that starts at 7:00 p.m.