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Trader Joe's Alcohol Permit on Tap for City Council Thursday

The City Council will hold a public hearing to decide whether to allow the supermarket to sell packaged alcohol or not.

Trader Joe's will be before the Peabody City Council Thursday night for a special permit to allow the store on Route 114 to sell packaged alcohol.

There are seven zoning districts in Peabody where package store sales are allowed – Trader Joe’s is Regional Business – and all require a special permit from the council. If the council signs off on the permit, next up is the Licensing Board for a hearing on the transfer of the license from Martino's Liquors to Trader Joe's.

Martino's is selling the all-alcohol retail license to Trader Joe's for a l, which has raised some eyebrows.

The means by which the state effectively prohibits supermarkets, such as Trader Joe's, from selling alcohol is by restricting the amount of licenses a business can hold.

Until this past January, that limit was three, but the state legislature passed a law last year increasing the limit to five. That opened the door for Trader Joe's and other chains to pick up a couple more licenses, provided they also pay the state $5,000 for each license over three.

Trader Joe's currently has three licenses in use for its Brookline, Cambridge and Framingham stores and says it has received permission for a fourth.

Shoppers at the Andover Street store shouldn't expect any visible changes, should the approvals be granted by the city, except for new shelving. According to the permit application, beer, wine and spirits will be stocked near the front of the store.

At locations where Trader Joe's does sell alcohol, the options include vodka, craft beers, wine and high-end liquers -- all brands that are not available from other retailers.

As far as Trader Joe's is concerned, city officials have not publicly expressed any concerns to date, although Licensing Board members have unabashedly criticized Frank Martino for apparently making a tidy profit off one license and then attempting to get another from the city.

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