Edgartown selectmen agree to allow police to regulate taxi drivers


On the suggestion of police chief Tony Bettencourt, Edgartown selectmen agreed Monday to give police the authority to check the criminal records of taxi drivers and approve or deny an individual’s license to drive a taxi. The authority to license a company to operate a taxi service will remain with selectmen, but police would assume the authority to license drivers.

The changes will require the town to adopt a section of state law. Selectmen have scheduled a vote on the measure at their next meeting.

“Through the criminal history board, we can actually run some of these records,” Chief Bettencourt said. “Right now we can’t, because it goes through the board of selectmen. Coming from me, we’ll be able to run everybody’s record so we have safe drivers on the road.”

He said the change is not out of concern for any current taxi companies or drivers.

Earlier in Monday’s meeting, selectmen renewed licenses for Adam Cab to operate 10 taxis, and for John’s Taxi to operate three vehicles. They voted to increase from eight to 10 the number of cab licenses issued to Stagecoach Taxi.

In other action, the board straightened out an alcohol licensing issue for Edgartown Books. In earlier meetings, the board approved a beer and wine license, but later rescinded that vote, because the business had not received needed inspections and approval from the town building inspector. At Monday’s meeting, selectmen rescinded their vote to rescind, and instead voted to table the beer and wine license.

“Now this can go to the ABCC (Alcoholic Beverage and Control Commission),” said Sean Murphy, an attorney who represents Edgartown Books. “This will allow them to get up to Boston and start the process.”

If the ABCC approves the license, it would still need final approval from the town.

“It’s complicated, but we’re getting there,” chairman Art Smadbeck said.

In other action, the board scheduled a public hearing for a beer and wine license application from Bad Martha Brewing Company. The beer company is constructing a brew pub on Upper Main Street. The hearing is set for May 19, at 4 pm, in the selectmen’s meeting room.

Selectmen also approved the final draft of a letter to Governor Deval Patrick calling for the closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Opponents of the nuclear plant petitioned other Island town meetings to support decommissioning of the plant, but they missed the deadline to get on the Edgartown annual town meeting warrant.