A Boston attorney is challenging the town’s decision to allow Tree House Brewing Company to open a taproom and beer garden on Town Neck.
The attorney, Daniel J. Bailey III, filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, April 21. In it he asks that the ZBA to hold a public hearing and to vacate a building permit issued to Tree House back in March.
Mr. Bailey said he represents four couples who live on Freeman Avenue. His clients did not realize until an April 15 public hearing on Tree House’s liquor license application that the building permit had been issued, he said.
Mr. Bailey’s office then learned that the building inspector issued the permit after determining that the new owners of 98 Town Neck Road (formerly the Drunken Seal and before that, Horizons, restaurants) were allowed, by right, to operate a taproom and brewery.
“We vociferously disagree with that conclusion, and ask that the Zoning Board immediately hold a public hearing and revoke the Permit,” Mr. Bailey wrote.
The attorney laid out several legal arguments for his challenge. Among them are:
• Tree House’s plans for a brewery and beer garden that can serve 500 people, beer distribution and food truck sales violates the bylaw governing a BL-1 zone. The bylaw stipulates that the zoning is for moderately dense commercial use “while preserving or enhancing ocean views from highways, protecting character of historic environs, preserving or enhancing landscaping, minimizing visibility of parked autos and avoiding creation of hazards or congestion.”
• A restaurant is an allowed use, but the proposed taproom would not serve food in the renovated building and is therefore not allowed.
• The 17 parking spaces on the site are “woefully inadequate.” The company proposes to address the inadequacy of on-site parking by using a shuttle service to an off-site parking area. The Zoning Bylaw, however, requires that all parking be within 300 feet of the use.
• Drive-up service to purchase beer is not permitted in the district.
• The cost of the work being done may exceed 50 percent of the value of the building and therefore triggers the need for compliance with current floodplain requirements for a building in the flood zone.
• The proposed use is not really a brewery, but rather a storage and sales facility for beer brewed in another facility owned by Tree House.
• The septic system is inadequate for such a large number of potential customers.
• The proposed walk-in coolers pose a hazard to the nearby protected wetlands and dune.
The appeal was filed on behalf Al and Rosemary Morteo of 9 Freeman Avenue; Lisa and Kevin Cobban of 21 Freeman Ave; Lisa and Lloyd Lipsett of 17 Freeman Ave.; and Pam and Tom Arrighi of 15 Freeman Ave.
Tree House Brewing Company representatives could not be reached for comment before press deadline Thursday. However, The Enterprise received an email comment just after deadline from Tree House founder, Nate Lanier.
"This process and our interactions with Town officials and locals have been a pleasure. We are confident in the plan for our brewery in Sandwich and look forward to welcoming the public into this warm and inviting space," the email stated. "We have fallen in love with Sandwich. From the atmosphere surrounding the marina to the peaceful path along the canal to the famous boardwalk to the rocky beaches to the view from the deck at 98 Town Neck Road, there is enchanting magic to the Cape’s oldest town, and we could not be more excited to contribute to that story."
Copies of the residents' appeal were sent to Building Inspector Brendan W. Brides, the owners of Tree House Brewing Company, and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Planning Director Ralph A. Vitacco said a public hearing will be scheduled for the ZBA, probably at the end of May.