On one side of the table were selectmen expecting to hear a presentation from Kraft Group on how the liquor license application for Splitsville can be improved and reconsidered. On the other side of the table were the Kraft Group representatives, wondering what presentation they were expected to have.
Originally, Sullivan and Selectman John Gray were expected to meet with Kraft Group officials after the selectmen unanimously approved the talks in November. A fear of violating open meeting law from Selectman Lorraine Brue after the vote meant that only Gray would represent the board in the meeting.
Both sides were hoping to meet in person beyond a lone meeting between Gray, acting town manager Bob Cutler, Legal Council Dick Gellerman, and Kraft Group officials but after Selectmen Ginny Coppola and Brue were accused of an open meeting law violation in mid-December, Sullivan ordered Cutler to suspend all meetings between town officials and the Kraft Group.
Sullivan however, said at Tuesday night's selectmen meeting he still expected talks between town council and Kraft Group legal council to produce something that could be voted on with all talks with the selectmen to take place during open session. When asked by Sullivan if he told Kraft Group Legal Council Jim Cobery to expect an open discussion at Tuesday’s selectmen meeting, Legal Council Dick Gellerman said he did tell Cobery that.
“I thought we were all getting together tonight to discuss some kind of compromise to vote and reconsider to have another hearing but I guess we’re on the wrong page?” Sullivan said.
Kraft Group Legal Council Jim Cobery however was still under the impression that talks would still happen with the selectmen once the open meeting law violations were addressed.
“My understanding is that we would get together with someone from the board where we could make suggestions. We’re prepared to do that. The lawyers have had that discussion. I think it would be more beneficial if we could have someone from the board for that discussion,” Cobery said. “I really thought the plan was to talk to them (selectmen) offline.”
While both legal councils did discuss items pertaining to Splitsville such as the layout, the capacity, and the management, the Kraft Group still expected to be able to talk to board members in a private setting.
With the Kraft Group not ready to propose anything and an angry Sullivan anxious to adjourn the meeting, Selectman Jim DeVellis tried to play peacekeeper and discuss possible modifications for the application from a memo sent to the board.
“Let’s just briefly roll the dice and go over what the board wants to add. I don’t think he (Cobery) is hearing what he should bring in front of us, ” DeVellis said.
“He should be bring their best and brightest proposal in front of us,” Gray said, who was against going over the memo.
During the discussion, Cobery said the using temporary partitions to block off the entertainment area was a possibility and transferring a Splitsville employee to Foxboro as the full time manager from the start rather than using Howl at the Moon Boston co-owner Paul Holian as the manager of record while the Splitsville employee learns the state liquor license laws.
Coppola said she wanted Howl at the Moon completely off the project with the entertainment area to be use for more bowling alleys and Brue wanted to talk about decreasing the size of the facility. All three ideas were deemed as nonstarters by town council.
The selectmen are expected to hear a proposal from the Kraft Group at their Jan. 21 meeting and will vote on whether to reconsider the liquor license application on a future date. All discussions are expected to take place between the town and Kraft Group legal councils with any input from the selectmen to be sent only to Gellerman.
If the application is not reconsidered or denied a second time, the issue will be the topic of a pre-hearing conference for the application's appeal with the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in March.