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July 26, 2013

Towns aren't rushing to extend last call

Southern New Hampshire bars and patrons aren’t yet thirsting for a later last call.

While Gov. Maggie Hassan and Legislature agreed to let Granite Staters have another drink after 1 o’clock in the morning, town officials across the region report no requests to extend closing time.

The new law allows towns to permit bars and restaurants to stay open until 2 a.m., starting Jan. 1, with approval of the local legislative body.

That could mean a public hearing and vote of the board in communities with a town council form of government, or a vote of the people at Town Meeting under the selectmen form of government.

But thus far no one’s debating the need for this.

“We haven’t been approached by anyone yet,” Salem Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride said. “I don’t have a problem with it. But if there’s no demand, there’s no sense in pursuing it.”

McBride said he did hear from Salem businesses last winter that were interested in passage of House Bill 575, but said they have not contacted him since it became law.

The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote, with the House approving the Senate-approved version, 220-109. Hassan signed the last call bill into law this month.

For some towns, it’s just not an issue.

“I don’t think we have anything that would fall under that,” said Barbara Snicer, administrative assistant to the Atkinson selectmen.

The town only has a sub shop and a breakfast place, she said.

“There are no bars in Sandown this would affect,” selectmen’s assistant Paula Gulla said.

Pelham Selectmen’s Chairman Ed Gleason said there have been no calls yet for a later last call.

“We haven’t heard a word,” he said.

But Pelham doesn’t have many businesses that would be affected, he said.

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