Deerfield ZBA OKs Tree House’s permit for restaurant, concert venue, with 3 conditions

  • Tree House Brewing is in the process of transitioning to Phase 2 of its operation in the former Channing Bete Co. building in South Deerfield. Plans for Phase 2 include a restaurant with onsite consumption, a distillery, winery and cidery, along with both indoor and outdoor music. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2021 4:34:17 PM

DEERFIELD — In the last of a string of public hearings for Tree House Brewing, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the brewery’s special permit amendment with three conditions Thursday night for the operation of a restaurant and concert venue onsite.

The ZBA and Tree House’s lawyer agreed on three conditions: the permit will remain with Tree House, even if it sells the property; there can be no more than 100 paid, ticketed concerts outdoors in a calendar year; and all outdoor concerts must cease operation by 10:30 p.m.

Charlton-based Tree House Brewing is in the process of transitioning to Phase 2 of its operation in the former Channing Bete Co. building, which has already functioned as a to-go ordering site. Plans for Phase 2 include a restaurant with onsite consumption, a distillery, winery and cidery, along with both indoor and outdoor music.

Much like other recent hearings in the last week, the major concerns were centered on noise that could result from outdoor concerts. Mark Borenstein, an attorney from the Bowditch and Dewey law firm representing Tree House Brewing, said the company will be respectful of neighbors and will work closely with town and police officials.

“Tree House is proposing live entertainment and ticketed concerts … alternative bands, indie bands, we’re not talking heavy metal bands,” Borenstein said. “Besides genre of music, we’re held by decibel levels. … There will be a police detail at all concerts.”

Selectboard and Board of Health member Carolyn Shores Ness chimed in to note the town has tools to measure decibel levels if there are complaints.

During public comment, North Main Street resident Paul Olszewksi raised concerns about the brewery hosting concerts every night. He told the Greenfield Recorder many of the Deerfield’s boards seem to be approving Tree House’s permit too quickly. He added he is “not taking away from Tree House,” but the town needs to be more careful.

“You just want to cover your bases,” Olszewski said. “Are we crossing all our t’s and dotting all our i’s?”

ZBA member Robert Decker III raised further concerns about the number of concerts each year and initially floated the idea of limiting Tree House to 50 paid outdoor shows per year so neighbors are not disturbed multiple nights a week.

“The Selectboard issued a permit for entertainment for 365 days a year. … I like entertainment but I don’t like that much entertainment,” Decker said. “I don’t have much problem with indoor concerts.”

The exact number of ticketed shows became the focal point of the discussion and ZBA member David Potter said choosing an arbitrary number is unnecessarily restricting a business that is bringing new energy to town.

“I have a hard time taking a random number and telling them that’s the limit,” Potter said. “We talk in Deerfield all the time about cultivating a better business community.”

ZBA Chair Adam Sokoloski said setting a limit on paid concerts would be ineffective at controlling noise because the capacity limit would remain the same. He added Tree House has proved it wants to be in the community and will not be a “detriment.”

“I think it’s arbitrary to put a number on it. I get where Mr. Decker is coming from,” Sokoloski said. “(There’s) 500 people on site, whether it’s paid for or it’s free, that’s the max.”

Decker said he would not vote to approve Tree House’s permit if there was no limit to the number of paid outdoor concerts. Potter then set the limit at 182 shows a year before Borenstein said Tree House would agree to a 100-show limit and all outdoor concerts would end at 10:30 p.m.

With the conditions set, the ZBA voted 5-0 — Alex Herchenreder voted as an alternate due to the absence of John Stobierski — to approve the permit. Town counsel will work with Borenstein to iron out the exact details and the board will sign it. No exact timeline was given for when the paperwork will be drafted, but Assistant Town Administrator Jennifer Gannett said it will be done in a “timely” manner.

“We wish you the best,” Sokoloski told Borenstein when the permit was approved.

With the Zoning Board of Appeal’s approval, Tree House is free to move along with its construction projects and will not face another hearing until next year when its entertainment and pouring license are up for renewal. Borenstein said the company will, however, need to seek a state distillery license.

“Tree House continues to work with the town,” Borenstein said after the meeting, “to get permits at the local and state level.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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