The Block Island Times
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Old Island Pub gets partial expansion

Council approves 31 liquor renewals
By Stephanie Turaj | Nov 23, 2012

Dozens of business owners filled the town chambers on November 19 as the Town Council met as the Board of License Commissioners to hear a lengthy list of annual liquor license renewals, plus new requests for outdoor entertainment licenses, area expansions and extended hours.

New Corn Neck Road bar the Old Island Pub, which opened its doors this summer, came before the board with two new requests, both of which were mostly granted.

First, the Old Island Pub requested expansion of liquor service area. Nat Gaffett, who owns the place along with his father Lew, presented the businesses’ expansion plans.

When the pub opened this June, it was and remains the island’s first Class C license, which comes with no food service and a midnight closing time. Gaffett revealed that there are plans in the works for them to open a food takeout area to be titled “Profiles,” separate from the pub and with an outside takeout door.

The expanded liquor service area would include half of the area designated to Profiles, as well as the area that is now “Beth’s Books.”

Member Dick Martin took issue with potential liquor service on a 9-by-32-foot porch on the bar’s southern side, explaining that it would create more people hanging around the building. “I do have a problem with lingering in the backyard,” he said.

The board voted to approve the liquor expansion request with the exception of the porch area, with First Warden Kim Gaffett, Nat’s sister, recused from the discussion.

The Old Island Pub also came up later, with a request for an outdoor entertainment license. Board member Ken Lacoste questioned the noise that could come from the establishment.  Richard Tretheway, who owns neighboring restaurant G.R. Sharky’s, said he never applied for a similar license because he prefers the “peace and quiet,” but if Old Island Pub got a license, he would also apply next year.

The board voted 3-1 to approve the entertainment request for a single performer at once, with Lacoste opposed and Gaffett recused.

The board also approved two other entertainment requests. One was for the Surf Hotel, which applied for performances on the hotel’s porch. Lacoste took issue with this application, citing primarily safety concerns. He argued that if there were performances on the front porch, walkers on the sidewalk would stop and look. However, after assurance that there would be no performances on that porch, the board voted to approve performances for the rear deck only, and a possible bridge deck that may be built in the future.

The board approved a request by Payne’s Dock for one or two performers at one time, confined to the deck at the bar.

The board voted to deny a request from Ballard’s asking for extended liquor service hours. Kim Gaffett explained that it was general practice not to extend times of liquor sales.

Seamless renewals

The Board of License Commissioners went one-by-one through the 31 establishments up for renewal of various classes of liquor licenses, and individually approved all of them with little public comment.

About halfway through the process, as the board came upon Club Soda’s Class BV Beverage renewals, a hand raised in the audience to largely commend the bar’s owners in clearing up many noise issues over the past year.

“There’s been some definite improvements and they’ve been very responsive to my concerns,” said neighbor Robert Fisher.

Last year during liquor renewals, Club Soda had accumulated the highest number of citizen complaints, 26. A neighbor had attended that meeting to complain about noise, and the board had voted to place several stipulations on the renewal of the license. In January the board then rescinded these stipulations after owner Maxon Balmforth promised to reduce the noise.

This year the bar received 22 noise complaints, but a few audience members noted that most issues happened after the bar closed, and seemed to come from workers leaving the building for the night or others partying outside as the night continues.

“The only issue I still have is after the doors close, getting the lot cleared out,” said Fisher.

Police Officer Paul Deane agreed that most complaints came “long after the bars were closed.” He said that managing these after-hours noise issues should primarily be the responsibility of the building managers, not the bar owners.

The board also voted on caps for beverage license numbers; the numbers remain the same as last year, at 2 Class A (full retail sale), 24 BV (wine, beer and spirits) and three BVL (beer and wine).

Public comment on Transfer Station

The Town Council heard public comment on another matter: the Transfer Station days of operation. John Willis argued the inconvenience of Wednesday-Saturday-Sunday operation and called for it to be open more days.

“We’ve got a lot of demolition,” going on, he said. “To carry their stuff around in their pickup trucks Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday is just not sufficient.”

He also noted that the lack of Transfer Station hours could be partially driving an increase in the rat population.

Winnebago storage, Town Beach concessions

The council voted to allow Adrian Pearce to store his uninhabited 1988 Toyota Winnebago on his grandmother’s property for the winter. He had been storing the RV there for the past six months, and needed a six-month extension as he has not successfully sold it.

There was some discussion over whether the council has the authority to regulate storage of registered uninhabited vehicles, but Town Solicitor Kathy Merolla noted that the town’s Zoning Laws prohibit trailers or mobile homes.

The council agreed to award a bid for the Town Beach concessions for Rebecca’s, the only applicant.

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