The state upheld last week a decision by the Acton Board of Selectmen to deny the renewal of the liquor license at Big Daddy's BBQ after owner Patrick Hannon appealed the board's decision.
The liquor license for Big Daddy's, located on Route 109 in Acton, was denied April 2 by the selectmen after they cited several code violations and the owner's character as the reasons. With the appeal denial, a temporary liquor license will now end on Sept. 30.
The Maine Department of Public Safety's Liquor Licensing Division Hearings Officer Lt. David Bowler wrote the department "finds by clear and convincing evidence that the decision by the town the appellant's application … is justified."
In testimony heard in June, Hannon, the owner of Big Daddy's BBQ, argued the town of Acton had denied his business a liquor license because he had exercised his right to free speech.
Much of the testimony echoed charges made at the selectmen's April public hearing, with Hannon claiming his rights had been violated and selectmen citing Hannon's involvement with a controversial local Web site, www.actoncares.com, as well as political signs Hannon had posted on his property making statements about various elected officials.
Acton Code Enforcement Officer Kenneth Paul testified that the violations listed on his report included cracked light switch plates, incorrectly used extension cords, and a speaker cord that presented a tripping hazard. After receiving the list of 35 code violations, Hannon fixed all but two before the appeal hearing.
During the appeal proceedings, Selectman Tony Cogliandro entered a letter from the York County sheriff into evidence referring to a motor vehicle accident on March 6, when 28-year-old driver Alexander Gewlas III veered off the road and into a tree. He was killed instantly.
According to the sheriff's report, Gewlas' blood alcohol content was .148 at the time of the accident, significantly higher than the legal limit of .08 percent. Security cameras at Big Daddy's BBQ confirmed that Gewlas had been drinking at the establishment before leaving, according to the letter.
Gewlas' father, Alexander Gewlas Jr., brought copies of Big Daddy's BBQ advertisements claiming shuttle buses were available to pick up and drop off customers unable to drive. Harmon can appeal the decision to district court. He has 30 days from the appeal denial decision to file another appeal.