Lincoln’s clerk on leave amid questions about notices

Lincoln’s clerk on leave amid questions about notices

LINCOLN – Longtime Town Clerk Karen Allen is on leave from her job and her name has been removed from the town’s website as questions continue to swirl around how her office has handled sending out notices on business licensing applications.

Though Town Administrator Joseph Almond would not confirm that Allen being placed on leave is a direct result of the issues related to those applications, sources in Town Hall say the matters are connected.

Allen could not be reached for comment on her absence.

The Town Council is expected to hear from the applicant behind 119 Main LLC, known as Vine & Tap, during its meeting next Tuesday, March 19, when the still unopened Albion eatery will be given a second chance to make its case for a liquor license.

The restaurant was approved for a liquor license last November, but town officials held back the license last month when it came to light that mistakes had been made during the application process by both the town clerk’s office and the applicant.

The first allegation, raised by the owner of the home next to the restaurant, asserted that homeowners within 200 feet of the business had not been notified in writing that their neighbor was applying for a liquor license, as required by state law. If he had been notified, Michael Napolitano, of 121 Main St., said he would have been in attendance at last November’s public hearing to speak out against the license. He is one of eight neighbors who have since signed affidavits alleging that notice for the petition of a liquor license was never received from the town clerk’s office.

Under state law, the board, body or official to whom application for a liquor license is made (the clerk, in this case), must advertise the application in the paper once a week for at least two weeks. Notice of the application must also be sent, by mail, to all property owners within 200 feet of the place of business seeking the application.

The second allegation in the case of Vine & Tap was concerning the applicant, Michael McAteer, whose application indicated he had never been arrested or convicted of a crime despite having done both.

In response to the inaccurate application and the town’s failure to send notice to abutters, a new public hearing for Vine & Tap’s liquor license was scheduled for the March 19 Town Council meeting. The future of the proposed tapas restaurant is presently unknown pending the results of that meeting.

Town officials took responsibility for the failure to notify residents about the public hearing in this case, but said the mistake was not intentional. Almond admitted that the town appeared to be in error on the notices regarding 119 Main LLC, but said he was told by the Allen that notice was sent.

Following the incident, which raised questions on whether notice has been consistently sent to other abutters in Lincoln, Allen was placed on administrative leave. This week, Allen’s name on the town website was replaced by that of Monique Clauson, the town’s deputy town clerk.

The clerk’s office supports the Town Council, assists with voter registrations and oversees elections, handles land, birth, marriage and death records, coordinates the town’s probate and municipal courts, manages licensing and handles Open Records requests.

Comments

after being caught lying about a criminal record on the application. any resubmittal should be D.O.A.