Berlin residents can speak on theater's plans Tuesday

Published on Sunday, 20 August 2017 21:47
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - Residents will have an opportunity at Tuesday’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting to offer opinions on changes being made at a movie theater.

Picture Show Entertainment, at 19 Frontage Road, is applying for a liquor license as it renovates its lobby to include the sale of alcoholic beverages. It also is installing a soda machine and making changes throughout the building.

Picture Show Entertainment owns movie theaters in Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and California as well as Connecticut. It recently upgraded to lounge seats at the Berlin location.

The theater was granted a variance at June’s ZBA meeting to allow it to sell alcohol for consumption while being within 1,500 feet of another establishment that sells alcohol, that being Strykers at 841 Berlin Turnpike.

Tuesday’s meeting will continue discussion on granting a tavern permit, which would allow for the actual sale of alcoholic beverages on the premises.

ZBA members decided to continue the public hearing on the permit as questions were raised as to when alcohol sales would be allowed, if non-moviegoers would be allowed to buy alcohol from the bar, how the monitoring of alcohol sales would occur, and if people who purchase alcohol will be allowed to leave the building through a door that would be near the alcohol/concession stand, according to minutes from the June meeting.

Representatives of Picture Show Entertainment said that alcohol sales would not be advertised, that a barrier separating the area where alcohol will be sold is in the plans, and that the issue of non-moviegoers buying drinks at the bar is not a problem at their other locations.

At another location, a two-drink maximum is enforced when buying alcoholic beverages, with a maximum consumption of three during a stay. The representatives said drinkers would be allowed to go into the theater with their drinks; however, staff would be trained to check IDs, watch for handoffs to minors and look for intoxicated people, according to the minutes.

Paul Skiwot, who lives on the corner of Frontage Road and Worthington Ridge, abutting the property, spoke on behalf of fellow neighbors, saying the property was in disrepair with a fence that people walk through. He added that loitering occurs at the theater and the alcohol permit could attract more loiterers.

Since the last meeting, Picture Show has altered its plan, reducing the number of seats in the lobby area, and removing from the plan the door near where alcohol would be sold, said Maureen Giusti, the town’s zoning enforcement officer.

Giusti also said the ZBA has the authority to set conditions when granting a tavern permit.

If the ZBA does not make a decision at Tuesday’s meeting, Giusti said, it has a limited number of days to continue the hearing before reaching the statutory maximum number of days to keep a public hearing open.

Picture Show Entertainment said at the June meeting that it is planning to remain open through the renovations.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers at 240 Kensington Road.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Sunday, 20 August 2017 21:47. Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2017 21:49.