A proposal to allow beer and wine sales at the Home Port and Beach Plum restaurants in Chilmark came under fire at a selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday.

Several longtime residents had gathered to speak out against the proposal.

Josh Aronie, representing the restaurant owners, presented a petition with 14 signatures to the selectmen, asking for a ballot question to determine whether to allow the change. He also hoped that a town meeting article prior to the ballot would help generate support for the proposal.

“There is obviously opposition, and generally opposition is more vocal than support,” Mr. Aronie said, alluding to the roomful of people waiting to speak.

Chilmark executive secretary Tim Carroll also encouraged a town meeting vote, as a way to explore the topic and decide whether to move forward. Several questions remained, including whether a beer and wine license would open the door to other restaurants in town.

“Some parameters would be better than roughing it at the last minute,” Mr. Carroll said.

According to state law, 10 signatures on a petition are enough to require an article to appear on an annual town meeting warrant. Bringing the item to the special town meeting this fall or winter, however, would require 90 signatures, or 10 per cent of the registered voters in town.

Selectman Bill Rossi sought greater clarity in the proposal, noting that a letter from Mr. Aronie last week asks for liquor licenses, while the petition mentions only beer and wine.

“This is a little light right now,” he said of the proposal. “You need more detail and you need to ask around and see how people feel about it.”

The selectmen hope to schedule a special town meeting for late October, but showed no interest Tuesday in having the beer and wine issue on the agenda.

“I think we’re going to have a normal October town meeting without this issue on it,” selectman Warren Doty said. “If you presented a petition that forces us to do it at the annual town meeting, then that’s your right. But it would seem that the sentiment in the town is not in favor of granting beer and wine to restaurants. And that would be my feeling also.”

Two years ago, following a similar request by Bob Nixon, owner of the Home Port, Beach Plum and Menemsha Inn, dozens of people turned out to a selectmen’s meeting to voice their opposition. Many of the same issues came up on Tuesday.

“The Home Port parking lot is full every single night,” said Jane Slater of Oversouth Antiques in Menemsha. “It’s silly to say that you need beer and wine to get people to come to the restaurant.” She added that the people in the room weren’t against drinking, but were business owners concerned about the consequences of allowing alcohol to be sold at the restaurants.

Mr. Doty noted that he would have also opposed liquor licenses in West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven, which gave up being dry towns in recent years. Chilmark is the last dry town on the Island.

Everett Poole, owner of the Chilmark Chandlery, then stood up at the back of the room.

“For over 300 years we’ve been dry in this town,” he said. “We get a few people from away move in here and we want to change it. We don’t need to change it. If they need a competitive edge, why don’t they improve their menu?” Mr. Poole, who is also the town moderator, advised the selectmen not to address the matter at a special town meeting.

Others pointed out that restaurant patrons in Chilmark may bring their own alcohol. Selectman Jonathan Mayhew somewhat jokingly agreed with Carlton Crocker’s assessment that Chilmark was already “the wettest little dry town in the state.”

Left to his own defense, Mr. Aronie argued that without beer and wine, the Home Port had no advantage over other Island towns. “It puts us in a different playing field,” he said.

He added that food is generally less profitable than alcohol, which has a longer shelf life and draws a different crowd. He added that not everyone who parks in Menemsha goes to the Home Port, and he believed the free shuttle between Tabor House Road and Menemsha Harbor could continue to alleviate the summer congestion.

Despite his opposition to serving alcohol at the Home Port, Mr. Doty expressed his appreciation for the restaurant. “I think the Home Port is a great asset to the town of Chilmark, even if we say no to beer and wine,” he said.

Mr. Carroll reported that ridership on the Menemsha shuttle was up 56 per cent over last year, with 2,070 riders in July and 2,775 in August. The seasonal service ended this month, but selectmen planned to extend the season next year.

The selectmen also granted a tentative filming permit to HGTV, which hopes to shoot scenes for an episode of Island Life, a lifestyle and real estate show, between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. The producers had already agreed not to mention place names on film, and to allow continued access to public areas. Filming will take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The selectmen planned to meet with Edgartown officials about Edgartown’s experience when HGTV filmed in town for their Dream Home competition last year.