Bowing to pressure from the planning board, Bad Martha Brewery withdrew plans to build a raw bar in front of the brewery and agreed to do away with a bocce court out front. The brewery and its lawyer were very accommodating; another business might not have backed down so quickly.
The planning board objected to the raw bar and raised concerns about outdoor entertainment because of complaints of abutters who live across the street. The board has made no decisions, but it is clearly sympathetic to the neighbors to the point that it may require buffer plantings and perhaps even a fence.
On the surface, this is a neighborhood issue. People live on one side of the street and a new business sets up on the other side.
But it is not that simple.
Bad Martha Brewery is an entertainment venue in a zone that allows it. It is a site where entertainment has been offered under various ownership and buildings over many years. And in past years it has been the site of very popular entertainment. There is nothing new here.
Bad Martha demolished an old building and built a first-class, very attractive place. It went so far as to use wooden shingles on the roof, something most people would shy away from because of the cost. The landscaping was very well done. There is no arguing the fact that it is an attractive building and grounds. One doesn’t have to set foot on the property to enjoy the view.
The outdoor amenities Bad Martha added are conducive to socializing and lighthearted fun, which are not necessarily associated with heavy drinking. Bad Martha is anything but a road house with hard-driving music.
And best of all, Bad Martha Brewery is an attraction for young or younger people.
We complain that the Cape is growing old, and there is much conversation and discussion about finding ways to bring well-paying jobs and creating affordable housing so that young people will stay here and maybe even move here.
But there is a third leg to this stool, and that is quality of life. We focus on needs, but we also need to be aware of wants. Young people will find a way to live in a high-cost area if they really want to; at least some number will. But they will not live anywhere, no matter how inexpensive, if there is nothing to satisfy their wants.
The planning board should give this bigger picture serious consideration. The Cape is indeed growing older, but if we cater only to the wants of an aging population, we will have a magnificent senior center and wonder where all the young people are.