PROVIDENCE — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24 Woonsocket, North Smithfield) and Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49 Woonsocket) to allow a new brewery in downtown Woonsocket is now headed to the governor.
The legislation, if signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, would allow the Woonsocket City Council to approve a Class B liquor license for Lops Brewing at 122 North Main St.
The Senate version of the bill, S0038, passed the House on Tuesday and will be transmitted to the governor, according to Meredyth Whitty, director of the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau. The House passed an identical version of the bill, H5053, on Feb. 26, and last week a Senate committee recommended it for passage by the full Senate, according to Whitty. The House bill is cosponsored by Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket).
Lops Brewing would operate a brewery in building to be located within the Downtown Overlay District established by the city in 2015. The property is currently being rehabilitated with business space on the ground floor and apartments on the three floors above. Brewer Sean Lopolito of Plainville has been working to open a 40-seat taproom on the first floor of the brewery as well as seasonal patio seating, and brewing operations in the basement.
Murray, elected to the senate in the past election, was a member of the City Council when the Downtown Overlay District was created and made downtown revitalization one of her priorities. She sponsored the legislation as the first bill she introduced as a new legislator to help bring the business downtown.
“A small brewery is a perfect fit for the effort to revitalize downtown Woonsocket,” Murray said in a statement announcing the bill’s passage. “We now have a number of high-quality restaurants and bars, plus the Stadium Theatre, which has become a regional attraction with national acts and popular large productions,” Murray said. “This is an exciting opportunity for downtown Woonsocket, one that could help in the effort to bring in visitors and help develop the neighborhood and its atmosphere,” she said.
The legislation allows a commonly granted exemption to location limits, which will allow the City Council to approve the brewery’s license if it meets all other requirements.
“The growth of small breweries and distilleries in the Blackstone Valley and around the state has created exciting new opportunities for Woonsocket,” Rep. Morin said of the legislation. “They are helping to make our city an inviting destination, where people enjoy spending their time and their money at our local businesses,” he said. Morin predicted that Lops will be “an outstanding addition to our growing dining and entertainment scene downtown.”
Representative Morin has been an advocate for the expansion of the local brewing industry and was the sponsor of the law passed in 2016 that allowed breweries and distilleries to sell limited amounts of their products to visitors for sampling and off-site consumption.
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