Lower Bar

A Stowe village couple says living “not even a pitching wedge” distance from a Main Street drinking establishment means hearing lots of conversations and other noise best left unheard.

Their request: Lower Bar, lower the noise.

Rebecca Chase and Rob Foregger live on Sunset Street almost directly across the street from Lower Bar, the new watering hole that opened in the space vacated last year by beer bar Tap 25. They told the Stowe Selectboard Monday that people congregating outside past 10 p.m. are too loud for a largely residential area not used to a robust nightlife.

“Who would have known we are an amphitheater? It basically has that same effect,” Chase said. She added, laughing, “I’ve heard so many conversations I can’t unhear.”

According to Town Manager Charles Safford, the building’s zoning permit calls for outside music to cease by 10 p.m., but that’s only for music. Safford said Tap 25’s permit allowed outside consumption until 10 p.m., but that was only during the COVID-19 state of emergency; prior to the pandemic, the outdoor drinking permit was good until midnight.

Chase and Foregger said they were surprised the town was able to simply amend the new bar’s permit back to midnight.

In the absence of a town noise ordinance, the only feasible way to police any noise problems in town may be to do just that, police the problem. But Chase said calling in a noise complaint would feel trivial based on the workload the police already carry.

Police Chief Don Hull said there is no reason to worry about that; it’s a common part of their job, especially at night and especially when alcohol is involved.

Selectboard chair Billy Adams agreed, saying all Stowe taxpayers — including Chase and Foregger — pay for police services. Plus, he said, one visit from a cop can always have the effect of calming things down without a second one.

“I don’t think that a bar would regularly want the police showing up at two o’clock in the morning or 11 o’clock at night, because police could come in and say, “Oh, you’ve got a bunch of patrons here that are being overserved,’” Adams said. “It would only be a matter of time for them to go, ‘Oh, you know, we’d better manage this a little bit differently.’”

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