Monday, July 15, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

HomeNewsWest Stockbridge Select...

West Stockbridge Select Board green lights TurnPark Art Space entertainment license revision

Town Administrator Marie Ryan confirmed that the town has a consultant in contract to review Wiseacre Farm's odor-mitigation plan.

West Stockbridge — There was no shortage of residents at the April 9 meeting of the West Stockbridge Select Board, with most attendees giving up a gorgeous evening to support TurnPark Art Space’s requested review of its entertainment license following a December vote to restrict the hours of amplified sound for the venue. And their support showed, with members unanimously approving the license for the Moscow Road venue, albeit with a “gentleman’s agreement” that the sound emanating from the site at the street not exceed 70 decibels.

In its annual review, the December session limited the group’s entertainment license to 9 p.m. for amplified sound, from its previous limit of 10 p.m. The change was triggered by residents who reported noise emanating from the venue to law enforcement during TurnPark’s June 10 event, an annual program that TurnPark Technical Director Jared Gelormino said is its loudest project of the year. At the time, the Select Board said TurnPark could still operate its programs until 10 p.m., but without amplification for its last hour. A request by TurnPark to overturn the December license was on the agenda for the January 2 Select Board meeting. That item was cancelled, but not before residents spoke out in favor of TurnPark’s request.

In his recent address to the Select Board, Gelormino said he spoke with Brian Duval, the town’s zoning enforcement officer, and discovered the project was permitted as a museum and not as a commercial entertainment venue. As a museum, TurnPark can apply for an entertainment license, with the process governed by the Select Board, “so, here we are,” he said.

Residents of West Stockbridge turned out for the April 9 Select Board meeting, with many in support of a request by TurnPark to expand the hours of operation listed in the group’s previous approved entertainment license. Photo by Leslee Bassman.

Numerous residents spoke in favor of TurnPark’s request, stating that the venue “is an immense asset to this town” and were supportive of all of the cultural events it has produced, asking the Select Board what citizens could do to help the business thrive.

Resident Curt Wilton, who spoke on January 2 in favor of a 9 p.m. ending time for amplified sound at the venue, applauded TurnPark and Gelormino for “doing a fabulous job” controlling overflow parking issues. He also heads up the town’s public works department.

Citing the level of amplified noise as a disturbance at her nearby home and restaurant, Truc Orient Express owner Truc Nguyen opposed the longer time for TurnPark’s amplified sound at previous hearings. She has also brought proceedings to the Zoning Board of Appeals alleging that town officials did not cite The Foundry entertainment venue for noise violations of its permit. “By 9:15 [p.m.], after three hours, it’s gotten to the point where we can’t handle it anymore,” Nguyen said of the amplified sounds.“And so that’s why we are calling the police or we are asking for it to be turned down.” She said the level of amplified sound at her deck measured 73 decibels from the venue and played a tape from September 9 to the audience from her phone depicting the sounds at her home. “There has to be a balance so we can all live together and coexist,” Nguyen said.

TurnPark Art Space Technical Director Jared Gelormino addresses the West Stockbridge Select Board on April 9, requesting a change in the hours previously approved for the venue’s entertainment license. Photo by Leslee Bassman.

Although the town has regulations covering noise violations from residences, it lacks bylaws for noise disturbances from a business in a commercial zone, Gelormino said. Last summer, the TurnPark festival peaked at 55 decibels, the noise limit for a residential zone, he said, with a town bylaw pertaining to single-day events stipulating a maximum noise allowance of 70 decibels at the property line along with a 10 a.m. t0 10 p.m. event time.

“While 70 decibels is far louder than anything we would ever do, the 10 p.m. end time as part of this established bylaw makes it clear that 10 p.m. is a reasonable end time for events,” Gelormino said. He requested the Select Board grant the entertainment license for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with a maximum of six events to end at 10 p.m. The group is only capable of producing a dozen events a year, he said, with applause following his statements.

Member Andrew Potter questioned Gelormino if he would agree, informally, to a “gentleman’s agreement” to limit the noise at the street to 70 decibels “as a compromise.”

“I’m confident we can stay under 70 [decibels],” Gelormino said.

Chair Kathleen Keresey said that if the license includes language regarding a 70-decibel level limit, the town needs to be able to determine how that level will be monitored and the clause enforced. Gelormino said he used his phone and iPad in the past to measure the noise level at the street and would be happy to keep a log, adding police were at the venue in June and at other times.

Longtime West Stockbridge business owner Sandra Hotchkiss pointed out that the town’s annual Zucchini Festival is in full swing until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., an issue should one business, TurnPark, have a sound regulation applied to it. “In order to keep businesses in this town, we have to be a little gentler with them,” she said.

Member Andrew Krouss said he was trying to understand the issue regarding the 70-decibel level restriction. Keresey replied that the conversation is one to be had between the Select Board members, with a motion and a second already pending. She called for a vote on the license without the inclusion of the discussed 70-decibel noise limitation, with the vote resulting in approval by Keresey and Potter but Krouss abstaining.

“I want a clarification on the 70 decibels level, and, so far, no one’s given it to me,” Krouss said.

Gelormino said the level was “pretty common” and is a part of the town’s one-day entertainment license provisions.

Krouss asked Gelormino if he had an issue with that limitation, to which Gelormino replied that he didn’t. “I think that’s the very tip of any sort of sound that you could muster, and I think it can be controlled,” Gelormino said.

When Keresey asked for the motion again to approve TurnPark’s license and 10 p.m. event ending time, the vote was unanimous in favor of the measure.

Following the meeting, Gelormino told The Berkshire Edge that he “is fine with [the 70-decibel limitation] being a gentleman’s agreement.” “I’m confident that we can stay under that. Whether it’s recorded by the police or me or anyone else, I’m confident that we’re not going to break that,” he said. “I’m really happy the board came out and did what we asked.”

Since the wording isn’t part of the actual license, however, Potter told The Berkshire Edge that the noise level in the verbal “gentleperson’s agreement” is unenforceable, and the town has no recourse should the noise level emanating from the venue at the street exceed 70 decibels. “We made a compromise,” he said. “We’re a small town; we’re allowed to make compromises. And we’re allowed to trust.”

Town consultant “on the job” to review cannabis farm’s odor mitigation plan

Town Administrator Marie Ryan confirmed to The Berkshire Edge that West Stockbridge has hired a contractor to consider an odor-mitigation plan proposed by cannabis grower Wiseacre Farm in its annual review. Although a contract has been signed with the firm, she explained that “they are in the process of working a time out to go to Wiseacre.” Potter said the group “is on the job.”

On February 21, the Select Board unanimously agreed to hire Waltham, Mass.-based Tech Environmental to review and comment on Wiseacre Farm’s odor-mitigation plan that was presented in January, as well as propose changes to the proposal.


The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.

Continue reading

Stockbridge, West Stockbridge, Richmond explore shared emergency, fire services

The Richmond Fire Stationhouse added an emergency ladder after the second floor was condemned.

Marijuana dispensaries’ lawsuits against Great Barrington continue to wind through court system

The Selectboard took no action pertaining to the lawsuits following their 30-minute executive session on the subject.

Welcome to Real Estate Friday!

Joseph Shirk of TKG Real Estate offers an unusual property that perfect as a live/work space for makers, artists, and business people. An analysis of first quarter 2024 real estate sales. Architect Pamela Sandler transforms a dark, compartmentalized condo into a light, bright and open home. Plus, recent sales, a farm-and-table recipe, and gardening columns.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.