PROVINCETOWN — The public hearing process on the Provincetown Brewing Company’s request for a special permit to offer outdoor entertainment has not yet begun, but letters of opposition are already flowing to the zoning board of appeals.
Brewery owner Christopher Hartley, along with his business partner and newly elected select board member Erik Borg, are looking to be able to provide outdoor entertainment seven days a week during business hours. “Any amplification will cease sharply at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday/Saturday and will be played at a reasonable level of sound,” Hartley wrote on the application.
The brewery’s current license allows indoor entertainment but only if all doors and windows are closed during live performances. Musical acts are limited to three pieces, and amplification is prohibited.
“We plan to have an assortment of entertainment throughout the entire year to help attract a variety of clientele,” Hartley wrote.
In a phone interview this week, Borg said he can understand “why neighbors are expressing some fear of the unknown.” But he and Hartley invested a lot of money in the outdoor patio this past spring, he said, and “it’s important to be able to use it.”
The brewery is in the town center commercial zone, where outdoor entertainment requires a special permit. Neighbors complain that outdoor entertainment on the patio has been going on for the last two summers without a permit.
According to Borg, the brewery used the outdoor areas for some entertainment during Covid. “We’re looking to continue,” he said. On weekly trivia nights, the indoor event has been broadcast to a spillover crowd outside through speakers. The brewery has also run some special events outside to coincide with the town’s theme weeks, Borg said.
Standish Street resident John Tyler said amplification was the issue.
“Their Monday night trivia quiz is so loud we could answer the questions from inside the house with the windows shut,” Tyler wrote in his letter of opposition. Texts, emails, and one certified letter to the owners asking them to moderate the sound have gone unanswered, he added.
The owner of Provincetown Bike Rentals, located across from the brewery, complained that the music drowns out his own speaker inside his shop. “There are some days when there are no events at all,” wrote Mike Riley, “and the volume is still out of control.” Riley urged the ZBA to prohibit amplification.
Borg conceded that the brewery broadcasts music outside daily during its hours of operation.
The town’s nuisance bylaw prohibits loud noise “regardless of its nature, source or manner of production or reproduction” that is audible 50 feet or more from the point of origin.
Among the several Center Street neighbors to express their opposition was Robert Littlefield, who formerly served on the zoning board. Littlefield said the burden from the noise would be significant to those living nearby. “I asked around and found no neighborhood input was solicited for this application,” Littlefield wrote.
The owners of two nearby guesthouses also sent letters asking the ZBA to deny the special permit. The Sunset Inn, which has operated for 21 years, sits across the street from the Provincetown Brewing Company. Owners Adrian Padilla and Leonard Scaparro wrote that the brewery’s outdoor seating area is already wired with speakers that play music daily and broadcast live entertainment several times a week. “We have asked them to tone it down but have not received any cooperation,” they said.
According to Licensing Agent Linda Fiorella, a handful of businesses have licenses for outdoor entertainment, and some have limits on the hours. Among them are the Aqua Bar and the Brasswood Inn on Commercial Street, Mac’s Fish House on Shank Painter Road, and the Provincetown Business Guild, which organizes events. The Crown & Anchor is also allowed to offer entertainment outdoors.
A couple of letter writers suggested granting the brewery a special permit but only for one or two events per summer.
Borg said he hopes the brewery can come to some agreement with its neighbors. “We want to be good neighbors but continue to run a business, and entertainment on the patio is part of that,” he said. Live music performance will be confined to inside the brewery, he added.
“When it comes to volume, the last thing we want to do is become a nuisance,” Borg said.
The opening session of the zoning board’s hearing on the permit request is set for Oct. 5.