A new Main Street brewery has been given an extension of its sewer allocation, but questions remain about the status of the business, specifically whether the owner stills plan to open in Bourne.
Oak Bay Brewery has been on target to open in the former Asacks Footwear store at 140 Main Street in Buzzards Bay. Brewery owner Brian M. Poulin appeared before the Bourne Board of Sewer Commissioners in December 2019 and requested a wastewater allocation of 2,256 gallons per day for his new business.
The commissioners unanimously approved the request, in part because Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi said there were 2,408 gallons of wastewater capacity available out of the 200,000 gallons per day Bourne can send to Wareham’s treatment facility.
A year ago, Mr. Poulin said he anticipated opening his new business by late May 2020. It now appears, given announcements on social media, that the business will instead be opening in Wareham.
The website Absolute Beer described Oak Bay Brewery as “a craft brewery that’s under development in East Wareham, Massachusetts.” It added that, as of last October, “there is no further information as to the brewery’s progress.”
A Google search of the business similarly describes Oak Bay Brewery as an East Wareham company, but its Facebook page fails to specify the town in which it will open. Adding to the confusion is the lack of communication with the town by Mr. Poulin.
The issue was raised during the sewer commissioners’ meeting on December 22. Oak Bay Brewery was on the agenda to provide an update to the board as to its plans for the Main Street building and its continued need for sewer allotment.
However, Mr. Poulin did not appear, and Mr. Schiavi said attempts to contact the brewery owner have proven unsuccessful. Mr. Schiavi said he could not provide an update to the commissioners.
“His allocation’s been paid for,” Mr. Schiavi said, “but obviously the project hasn’t really [advanced] at this point.”
Board chairman James L. Potter noted that Mr. Poulin’s payment for the allocation is not refundable. Mr. Potter added that there is no urgent need to revoke Mr. Poulin’s allocation, since there is no business in development that is being held up while waiting in line for sewer appropriation.
“To me, the story’s not complete, and it is not advantageous that he doesn’t get back to us to respond, but I think for right now there is no pressing need,” he said.
Mr. Potter assured the board that if Oak Bay Brewery opens somewhere other than Buzzards Bay, the allocation will be taken back and made available to another entity. He said it is just unfortunate that the business had not informed the town of its plans.
He said the decision to be made by the board was whether to extend Oak Bay Brewery’s allocation for another six months. He advised that the board could grant any length of time for the extension, even as little as one month. The commissioners should, however, take a position, he said.
Member Judith M. Froman made a motion to extend the allocation for three months. Ms. Froman said a six-month extension, which is what the board typically grants, would be too generous in this case.
Ms. Froman also asked if anyone knew whether Oak Bay Brewery was told by the Buzzards Bay Water District that the brewery’s water demands could not be met. Board members said they were not aware of that being the case.
Last summer, water district officials told town officials that requests and approvals were coming close to surpassing the amount that the state has permitted the district for daily pumping. The district cautioned that, until the state increases the amount that can be pumped daily, the current system cannot accommodate new large-scale developments in Buzzards Bay.
The water district asked that the town provide information relative to construction and development in Buzzards Bay. The information was to be included on the water district’s application to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection requesting an increase in the district’s water withdrawal permit.
Mr. Potter asked Mr. Schiavi if the water district’s application had been filed with DEP, and about the status of the request for increased pumping. Mr. Schiavi said the district’s application is under review.
The commissioners unanimously approved the motion to extend Oak Bay Brewery’s allocation for three months. Mr. Schiavi said he would send a formal letter to Mr. Poulin informing him of the extension and the need for him to confirm to the town where he plans to open his brewery.
Efforts to contact Mr. Poulin to comment for this article were unsuccessful.