Town of Belchertown, MA
Hampshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Belchertown 5-11-2009 by Art. 29. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Alcoholic beverages — See Ch. 10.
Marihuana — See Ch. 69.

§ 83-1 Purpose.

In accordance with the Town of Belchertown Home Rule Authority, and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants of the Town, this chapter shall permit the Town to impose liability on owners and other responsible persons for allowing, encouraging or contributing to the consumption of alcoholic beverages by underage persons at gatherings on private property.

§ 83-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the followingy terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ALCOHOL
Ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, or spirits of wine, from whatever source or by whatever process produced.
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE
All liquids intended for human consumption as a beverage which contain 1/2 of 1% or more of alcohol by volume at 60° F., including malt beverages.
EVICTION
Actively trying to evict a tenant from a premises by delivery of a notice to quit and subsequent court proceedings, if a tenant fails to vacate the premises.
GATHERING
A party, gathering, or event, where a group of persons have assembled or are assembling for a social occasion or social activity.
A. 
A person who, by court order, is the guardian of the person of a minor; or
B. 
A public or private agency with whom a minor has been placed by the court.
PARENT
A person who is a natural parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, or stepparent of another person.
PREMISES
Any residence or other private property, place, or location, including any commercial or business property.
PROPERTY OWNER
The legal owner of record as listed by the tax assessors records.
PUBLIC NUISANCE
A gathering of persons on any premises in a manner which constitutes a violation of law. Unlawful conduct includes, but is not limited to, obstruction of public streets by crowds or vehicles, illegal parking, public urination, the service of alcohol to underage persons, fights, disturbances of the peace, and litter.
RESPONSE COSTS
The costs associated with responses by law enforcement, fire, and other emergency response providers to a gathering as set forth in a schedule of costs established by the Board of Selectmen.
UNDERAGE PERSON
Any person under 21 years of age.

§ 83-3 Consumption of alcohol by underage persons.

Except as permitted by state law, it is unlawful for any underage person to:
A. 
Consume at any public place or any place open to the public any alcoholic beverage; or
B. 
Consume at any place not open to the public any alcoholic beverage, unless in connection with the consumption of the alcoholic beverage the underage person is being supervised by his or her parent or legal guardian.

§ 83-4 Hosting, permitting or allowing public nuisances or parties or gatherings for underage persons.

A. 
It is the duty of any person having control of any premises who knowingly hosts, permits, or allows a gathering at said premises to take all reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of alcoholic beverages by any underage person at the gathering. Reasonable steps include, but are not limited to, controlling access to alcoholic beverages at the gathering; controlling the quantity of alcoholic beverages present at the gathering; verifying the age of persons attending the gathering by inspecting driver's licenses or other government-issued identification cards to ensure that underage persons do not consume alcoholic beverages while at the gathering; and supervising the activities of underage persons at the gathering.
B. 
A gathering constituting a public nuisance may be abated by all reasonable means, including, but not limited to, an order by the police requiring the gathering to be disbanded and citation and/or arrest of any persons under any applicable provision of local or state law.
C. 
It is unlawful for any person having control of any premises to knowingly host, permit, or allow a gathering to take place at said premises where at least one underage person consumes an alcoholic beverage, provided that the person having control of the premises either knows an underage person has consumed an alcoholic beverage or reasonably should have known that an underage person consumed an alcoholic beverage and the person having control of said premises failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of an alcoholic beverage by an underage person.
D. 
This section shall not apply to conduct involving the use of alcoholic beverages that occurs exclusively between an underage person and his or her parent or legal guardian.
E. 
This section shall not apply to any Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission licensee at any premises regulated by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

§ 83-5 Mailing of notice of response to property owner.

Notice of response by police or other local officials to a gathering shall be mailed to any property owner listed on the Town of Belchertown property tax assessment records and shall advise the property owner that the third such response on the same premises within a one-year period, as measured from the date of the first notice, shall result in liability of the property owner for all penalties associated with such response as more particularly described below.

§ 83-6 Persons liable for first and second responses.

If the Police Department is required to respond to a gathering constituting a public nuisance on the premises, the following persons shall be jointly and severally liable for fines as set forth below. Response costs may also be assessed.
A. 
The person or persons residing on or otherwise in control of the property where such gathering took place.
B. 
The person or persons who organized or sponsored such gathering.
C. 
All persons attending such gatherings who engage in any activity resulting in the public nuisance.

§ 83-7 Persons liable for third and subsequent responses.

If the Police Department is required to respond to a gathering constituting a public nuisance on the premises more than twice in any one-year period, as measured from the date of the first response, the following persons shall be jointly and severally liable for fines as set forth below. Response costs may also be assessed.
A. 
The person or persons who own the property where the gathering constituting the public nuisance took place, provided that notice of the first and second responses has been mailed to the owner of the property as set forth herein and the gathering occurs at least 14 days after the mailing of the second such notice. The owner of the property shall not be held responsible for any violation and penalties if they are actively trying to evict a tenant from the property. The one-year time period for violations for a property shall pertain only to the same residents occupying the property who have had the prior violation(s). New residents shall start a new time cycle of one year should they violate this chapter.
B. 
The person or persons residing on or otherwise in control of the property where such gathering took place.
C. 
The person or persons who organized or sponsored such gathering.
D. 
All persons attending such gatherings who engage in any activity resulting in the public nuisance.

§ 83-8 Enforcement; violations and penaties.

A. 
This chapter shall be enforced by criminal complaint in the District Court. Violations shall be punishable by a fine of $300. In the alternative, it may be enforced by the noncriminal disposition process of MGL c. 40, § 21D. For the purpose of noncriminal enforcement, the enforcing persons shall be any police officer of the Town of Belchertown. If enforced pursuant to noncriminal disposition, the following fines shall apply:
(1) 
First offense: $200.
(2) 
Second offense: $250.
(3) 
Third and subsequent offense: $300.
B. 
The Town of Belchertown may additionally seek administrative costs and response costs associated with enforcement of §§ 83-3 and 83-4 through all remedies or procedures provided by state or local law.
C. 
Sections 83-3 and 83-4 shall not limit the authority of police officers to make arrests for any criminal offense arising out of conduct regulated by §§ 83-3 and 83-4, nor shall they limit the Town of Belchertown's or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' ability to initiate and prosecute any criminal offense arising out of the same circumstances necessitating the application of §§ 83-3 and 4.

§ 83-9 Local authority; severability.

No provision of this chapter shall apply where prohibited or preempted by state or federal law. If any provision of this chapter, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is declared invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter which can be given effect without the invalid provisions or application, to this end the provisions of this chapter are severable.