Proprietor's Lodge gets green light for alcohol at outdoor functions

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PITTSFIELD — Proprietor's Lodge has been given the go-ahead to entertain and serve alcohol outdoors for special events overlooking Pontoosuc Lake.

Over neighborhood opposition, the city's Licensing Board on Monday approved limited hours for unamplified live music and alcoholic beverages for outside functions such as weddings.

The board voted 3-0 to allow the expansion of those on-site amenities, a month after the licensing authority rejected a similar proposal from owner Eric Taylor. The denial was mainly due to unresolved complaints that residents had voiced to city planners in recent months, primarily over patrons parking on the street and impeding neighborhood travel.

The Community Development Board determined this month that Taylor had implemented a suitable parking plan, which included a nearby overflow lot. The additional parking is located near Taylor's Lake House Guest Cottages on the Lanesborough side of the lake.

That board has given temporary approval for the expanded outside use of the venue through Labor Day weekend. The planners are scheduled to meet Sept. 3 to review how the lodge owner and staff have handled themselves through the summer and decide whether to make permanent the expanded use.

While the owner can use more of the lodge property, the occupancy remains "locked in" at the existing maximum of 339 people, according to Pittsfield City Planner C.J. Hoss.

With that ruling in hand, Taylor submitted to the Licensing Board a revised plan for outdoor entertainment and alcoholic beverage service. Only three board members were present for Monday's meeting as Dennis Powell was absent and Chairman Carmen Massimiano had resigned this month.

Homeowners living near the lodge oppose further commercial expansion, which, they say, will increase already unreasonable amounts of noise, become a public safety issue and generally be a detriment to the area. Several residents say Taylor needs to prove that he can run the lodge during the busy summer season before he is allowed to expand to hosting outdoor events.

William McGovern was among those who told the board the expansion is out of character with the neighborhood.

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"We don't need Tanglewood down there. It's getting way too big," he said, referring to the sprawling summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox and Stockbridge.

Ultimately, the board restricted Taylor's proposal for outdoor live music to no more than three musicians and a maximum of two hours per day between noon and 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and between noon and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Excluded is the enclosed downstairs of the new ceremonial space.

The facility's current liquor license was altered to allow outdoor service for no more than three hours per day during the same hours as the music. Alcohol service on the patio off the lodge's main restaurant will be allowed during regular business hours.

The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has final approval on expanding outdoor alcohol service at the site.

Taylor had wanted an 11-hour window on Friday and Saturday, and 12 hours on Sunday, for guests to be able to drink outside during a three-hour event.

But Thomas Campoli, the new chairman of the Licensing Board, felt that the hourly range was better for the neighborhood.

"There's no need to go that long, that late in those [outdoor] spaces," he said.

"This all comes back to compromise, as we do want you to succeed," board member Dina Guiel said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233


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