HANSON — Owners of the Meadow Brook Restaurant, 1486 Main St., have received approval for their request for an extension of the facility’s liquor license as they alter the premises to include a deck for outdoor dining.
Sunday hours for the serving of alcoholic beverages will now be changed to 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. to attract brunch business. Those hours had been noon to 12:45 p.m. The deck area is expected to seat about 30 people.
The business owners have pledged to do what they can to mitigate noise concerns raised by abutters.
“It’s something we wanted to offer our patrons in Hanson instead of driving to the Cape,” co-owner Lynae Connelly said.
A handful of neighbors on both sides of the business attended the Tuesday, June 27 Board of Selectmen’s meeting to voice concerns about existing and perceived future noise problems. Selectmen, however noted that the Meadow Brook — and previous businesses at the site — have operated a restaurant business there for many years and urged the Meadow Brook owners to work with neighbors to provide noise and sightline barriers as a good faith gesture.
“They bought a building that had been vacant for awhile,” Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “They’ve resuscitated it, brought jobs back, they are huge community partners. They put a lot of money into that building. I think that they’ve indicated they are willing to be good neighbors.”
The selectmen also noted that the restaurant was there before the abutters moved in and a compromise is in order.
“Whoever the developer was that built those condos should have made a better buffer between the restaurant and the condos,” Selectman Jim Hickey said, noting that a fence that had fallen down had been installed by the neighbor on the opposite side, Michael Lewis. “I think, as a board, we’re trying to get a happy medium. … You already knew the noise was there to begin with.”
Lewis of 1488 Main St., noted that Wilbur Danner had promised to put up a stockade fence when his family bought the restaurant, but it has not been installed yet.
Danner said the expense of bringing the facility, which had stood empty for some time, had cost more than was anticipated. He and son in-law John Connelly pledged to do what they could to install tree barriers on one side, and a plastic noise-reduction sheet on the side where the deck will be built.
Danner, his wife Barbara and his daughters Lynae Connelly and Deborah Scrivens are co-owners of the restaurant.
“The building had been shut down for at least eight years before we took it over,” Wilbur Danner said. “I put a lot of money into that building, primarily with a septic tank, which cost me $168,000, and bringing the building up to code. … We try to do as much as we can as we can afford it.”
The Board of Appeals has already approved the deck area, which the owners had sought in response to customer requests in an effort to increase business.
“I don’t know if we’re in a position to know what was agreed upon between the restaurant and this gentleman when it opened up,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “We’re not legal counsel … but you’re now going to have people outside on a deck. If there were any issues, it might get worse.”
She stressed, however, that she favored “anything that’s going to help a small business increase their business and bring more business into town,”
Great Cedar Condominium resident Donna Frehill and two of her neighbors had complained about the potential for noise from the deck service. The outdoor dining area will be on that side of the Meadow Brook building.
Frehill said she and her neighbors have been bothered by noise from a fan and, while the Meadow Brook has been a good neighbor and has allowed them to hold condo association meetings in the function room at no cost, they remain concerned about the potential for increased noise from the outdoor dining area.
“Our concerns are how late people are going to be out there … and that noise level during weeknights and weekends,” she said. “Our concern is what kind of noise level will be there, will there be some controls over that?”
Scrivens said there would be no live bands playing outdoors.
John Connelly said the business could look into a plastic noise control curtain to help mitigate noise as well as looking into options regarding a tree barrier or fencing.
“Right now, there is no buffer between us,” Lewis said of his property on the other side of the building. “So, if you want to add this deck, what’s going to stop the noise?”
He said his family already deals with car headlights shining into their house “all hours of the night.”
Lewis had installed the old stockade fence that had fallen into disrepair before he approached Danner about installing a new fence. Trees that had also helped serve as a buffer had also been cut down, he said.
“We close at 10 p.m., we don’t hold late functions,” Lynae Connelly said. “The fence was in disarray when we bought it.”
Lewis said he didn’t care whose property the fence is built on, but since his property is for sale, Selectmen Kenny Mitchell said a fence could present a problem for the next owners.
Lewis said he has already had two people looking at his house comment on the lack of a buffer.
“You can’t put up a fence on somebody else’s property because that becomes a problem,” Selectmen Chairman James McGahan said, agreeing with Mitchell. The previous restaurant owner’s cooperation in installing a fence with Lewis had disregarded which property the fence was on.
Lewis said he has since had the property line surveyed to ensure the property line is now clear.
Mitchell said that, while the selectmen do not have the authority to force the business owners to install a fence, he urged them to work with neighbors to reach a solution to the problem.
“To make good neighbors, it would make sense,” he said.
McGahan suggested that fast-growing hemlock trees could be a solution.