PROVIDENCE, R. I. – The Providence City Council today announced that the Law Office
of Lynch & Pine will conduct a comprehensive review of the city’s licensing board.
Former attorney general Jeffrey Pine has been hired by the Council to examine the
Board of Licenses’ current procedures and identify areas in which the board can
better serve the needs of community residents and business owners. The initiative is
part of the City Council’s continued efforts to ensure best practices that promote
vibrant, safe neighborhoods for residents citywide.

Assessing the Board of Licenses’ adjudication process and equipping board members
with tools for best practices are among the Council’s top priorities. “The City must
provide a predictable framework for businesses to operate in Providence,” said
Council President Luis Aponte. “We want to ensure that fair policies and procedures
are in place and make the process more effective, enforceable, and consistent.”

“Our priorities focus on safety in our neighborhoods and the robust, citywide
opportunities we can create for our economy,” said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan. “The
Board of Licenses is the economic engine for the City of Providence and it needs to
function effectively.”

Striking a balance between promoting a healthy business environment throughout the
city and serving the needs of neighborhood residents has been a challenge for the
board. “In recent years, we’ve seen a change in nightlife trends that has directly
impacted the quality of life for our residents,” said Aponte. “We’re seeing more
neighborhood-based restaurants that operate as entertainment venues by night. The
result is an onslaught of licensing issues that really affect the quality of life in
our neighborhoods, and as City Councilors, it’s our responsibility to figure out how
to solve them.”

In the past year, neighborhood association groups, including the Jewelry District
Association and the Federal Hill Commerce Association, have called on the Board of
Licenses for reform. “I have been vocal in my concerns about the Board of Licenses’
current policies and procedures,” said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan. “Through the
Committee on Municipal Operations and Oversight, I’ve launched a fact-finding
mission to evaluate the Board’s operations and identify areas for improvement. The
next step involves a comprehensive, third-party review to provide the Council with a
cohesive set of recommendations that empower the Board of Licenses to better serve
the city.”

“I have many concerns about the way the Board of Licenses functions,” said
Councilman Michael Correia. “I don’t think it’s open and transparent to the people
of Providence, especially to constituents who are unable to take time out of the
workday to discuss their concerns. Those voices need to be heard, especially when an
establishment is effecting their neighborhood’s quality of life. I welcome Mr.
Pine’s insight and look forward to working with him.”

“I look forward to this project, and I will do my best to examine the issues in an
effective, productive manner,” said Pine, who served two terms as attorney general
for the State of Rhode Island and is co-founder of the Providence-based firm Lynch &
Pine.