HAVERHILL — Bradford Shell is back in the booze business.
At a special meeting yesterday afternoon, the city’s License Commission voted 3 to 0 to return the businesses’ license to sell beer and wine at 154 Main St. in Central Square.
In February, the commission revoked the license after a store clerk was caught in a police sting selling alcohol to a minor for the sixth time since 2002.
But the owner, Aziz Saba, appealed to the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, which rejected the city’s decision.
Instead, state alcohol officials recommended the city change Bradford Shell’s punishment to a 20-day suspension, with 10 days to be served and 10 days to be suspended for three years. The business consists of a gas station and convenience store.
At yesterday’s hearing, City Solicitor William Cox told commission members they cannot permanently revoke a businesses’ license if the action is rejected by the state.
Cox recommended Bradford’s Shell’s punishment be changed from revocation to 221-day suspension — the number of days between when the commission revoked the license in February and when it was returned today. Cox said that length of suspension would set the starting point for future discipline should the business get caught selling to a minor again.
“I understand your frustration and it’s certainly appropriate to voice displeasure to repeat offenders,” Cox told commissioners. “But unfortunately your decisions are subject to review by the state. In this case, it would be futile to stick with revocation and it could open the city to liability if they took us to court.”
If the case went to court, Cox said the city would not only be on the hook for legal fees, but also would face to the possibility of losing a judgement for lost sales and other financial damages to the business.