Attorney General contacted over Warren restaurant vote

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A Warren restaurateur rejected in her bid to open a new eatery in town has asked the Rhode Island Attorney General to review whether the Warren Town Council followed the open meetings laws when she was rejected in early April.

Former Basically British owner Fab Goldberg and a partner, Victoria Forbes, asked the council on April 8 to transfer victualing and liquor licenses from the former Cheese Plate at Water and State streets to their new venture, Nosh.

The council, acting on what president Chris Stanley said was the recommendation of Warren Town Solicitor Stephanie Federico, rejected the request summarily, in an exchange that lasted less than two minutes. The council’s unanimous rejection came without public comment, though Mr. Stanley said later that that matter was not a public hearing.

“They filed a petition and a request for a public hearing for a BV license. The petitions were not in front of the council during a public hearing. We have approved similar petitions without any discussion and no one has raised any objections,” he wrote later in an e-mail to the Times.

But soon after the vote, Ms. Goldberg hired attorney Robert Healey to represent Nosh LLC. He said Tuesday that he recommended she bring the open meetings matter to the state AG.

“I recommended a course of action that included that,” Mr. Healey said. “I don’t know to what extent the AG’s movement on this (inquiry) has been. My guess is they will take it to a level where the town council will be asked” what happened.

As for Nosh’s next step, Ms. Goldberg is still interested in opening up the restaurant, but has not settled on a location.

“Right now it’s up in the air,” Mr. Healey said. “She’s exploring her options as to where it’s going to be. Clearly, there’s no intention of doing anything in Warren.”

Mr. Stanley wrote in his e-mail that the council’s decision not to discuss the matter was done to save the applicants “pain,” as Ms. Goldberg, a controversial figure in town, owes several debts to the town and other agencies. Elaborating later, he wrote in an e-mail to the Times that “I assume that the council rejected the matter in the interest of ensuring a "public good.” That was certainly my intent. Once again, there are outstanding legal and financial obligations to the Town of Warren.”

When asked what he thought about possible legal action being taken, Mr. Stanley responded:

“She has the right to take any action she wishes to at this time.”

The Cheese Plate

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.