PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Although not all members were in agreement, the Licensing Board gave the Rusty Anchor permission to temporarily serve outdoors.
The board voted 3-2 on Monday to allow the bar on Lake Pontoosuc to open up seating and serve beer and wine on its patio under the governor's orders for Phase 2 that allows for outside dining.
"This is a really unique situation and I really think we could make a decision here without getting ourselves in trouble and really support this," board member Dennis Powell said.
Board members Kathleen Amuso and Thomas Campoli voted in the negative because they felt legally they could not allow the opening because the Rusty Anchor is not a restaurant.
"It is a club but you are essentially a bar and under the order, bars can't open inside, outside, wherever until Phase 4," Campoli said. "What you are asking us to do we do not have the legal authority to do."
Campoli said he did check with the Health Department and the Rusty Anchor does not have a food permit. He said the city solicitor also shares this opinion.
Board member Richard Stockwell thought because the Rusty Anchor already has permission for outdoor serving, it could be slotted in as a beer garden.
Owner Scott Graves said he has a $20,000 outdoor kitchen at which members can cook or warm their own food. He said the Rusty Anchor is a unique outdoor recreation facility.
"It's very nice and it is unique and every other bar out there, they have a dirt parking lot or blacktop. They don't have outdoor seating," he said. "They don't allow people to cook their own food."
Campoli said his main fear was by approving the Rusty Anchor's request they "open up the door" for all bars to request outdoor serving permission, which the order does not allow.
"If we don't adhere to these limitations any bar could come in and make the same argument," he said. "It would be wonderful to allow the Rusty Anchor to open but I think this goes way beyond our authority."
The Colonial Theatre Association was not as lucky and the board did not even make a motion to act on its request to expand outdoor serving during upcoming outdoor performances.
"I think this runs into the same problem. This special treatment that you are seeking only can be given to a restaurant," Campoli said.
In other business, the board gave Hotel on North permission to expand its event space within its gated parking lot.
Manager Daniel Zimmer said the hotel would like to hold cookouts and other pop-up events. He said they currently have permission under the governor's emergency order to utilize this space but would like to expand this into 2021.
"This would be for future planning, not current operations ... this is something that has been in the works for a while now," he said. "We want to make sure we have permission and are able to hold these events."
The only concern the board had was how late these events may go but Zimmer said it is in the hotel's best interest to end these events at a proper hour because there are hotel rooms near this parking lot.
He said at the latest events would wrap up around 10 p.m.
Earlier in the meeting, the board retroactively gave Stockwell the authority to independently approve these temporary outdoor serving extensions.
The board had voted earlier this month to give Campoli the power to expedite applications to expand restaurant service outdoors temporarily. He could independently make judgments or refer them back to the entire board for a larger discussion.
If Campoli had a conflict of interest, then Stockwell, the vice chairman, would make a determination. However this was never voted on.
Campoli said Stockwell had to act on two applications in which he had a conflict and asked the board to retroactively grant Stockwell this power.
"There was, in fact, a conflict that I had in regard to Zucchini's and Roasted Garlic," he said. "In light of that, Mr. Stockwell did talk to the applicant, examined the space, and issued the license."
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