WEST STOCKBRIDGE — The Select Board granted a music and theater venue a special permit Thursday, on the condition that it hold all but five performances indoors, a decision that ended months of strife for two neighboring businesses and their supporters across the Berkshires and beyond.
For the outdoor performances, The Foundry must not exceed 60 decibels, and those sound levels must be measured at the property line. Board member Roger Kavanagh said the town should take charge of these measurements and apply rigor to ensure fair enforcement of the condition for both businesses.
The Foundry can hold its three remaining outdoor shows as long as sound levels are controlled.
Other conditions include keeping liquor on The Foundry premises, crowd control and preventing trespassing onto the Truc Orient Express property, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant where the proprietors, the Nguyens, reside.
Also, The Foundry must not control access to Merritt Way, the only vehicle access to Truc. The permit has to be renewed every year, on Oct. 31.
Violations of these will constitute a zoning breach and could result in loss of the permit, according to the conditions drafted by attorneys for both parties.
Owner Truc Nguyen said that, given all this, The Foundry should get the permit.
And Nguyen gave an emotional statement after the truce in what she called a “knock-down-drag-out saga” since June, leveling blame on the board, which has been slammed for allowing The Foundry to run unpermitted since it opened in 2019, and for its inaction on noise and other complaints all summer.
“We were pitted against each other,” Nguyen said, “and advised by the board to fend for ourselves.”
She invited Foundry owner Amy Brentano and her family for a meal and said she also hoped to go to a Foundry performance — all of it, a way to heal.
The feud began in May when Brentano said she planned to control or possibly close the access road that leads to Truc for safety reasons, since she needed to have performances outdoors because of COVID-19. Brentano owns the road, though the town has maintained it for decades.
WEST STOCKBRIDGE — More than two decades ago, the town barred vehicles from a bridge off Main Street that spans the Williams River, converting…
That spun out into a battle over noise during events; police measured decibel levels averaging about 70, which is more than double normal levels in the small downtown beloved for its rural charm.
The drama also revealed that town officials past and present hadn’t done their homework — Brentano never applied for a special permit for her theater with capacity for 99, and a bar. Nor did the town enforce that or noise regulations after complaints from Nguyen and at least one other resident.
One says its noise. The other calls it music. Regardless, the outcome will likely hinge on decibels.
It also revealed the town’s negligence regarding a bridge closure in the 1990s that left Truc hemmed in by private property, and no public road. Last week, Nguyen sued the town and The Foundry to ensure access into the future. Her attorney said the lawsuit is pending.
Parking will be the next quandary facing town officials. Four nearby business owners, including Nguyen, offered Brentano parking spaces during her events.
Moscow Road resident and Highway Superintendent Curt Wilton said parking in the area has grown wild and dangerous. Dana Bixby, the Planning Board chairwoman, said it’s time to rethink parking.
“We’re having a moment where we’re testing our zoning,” she said.
Board Chairman Eric Shimelonis said the town doesn’t want to use traditional zoning rules for numbers of parking spaces.
“We don’t want to live in a town of parking lots,” he said. “That’s not why we moved here.”