A kitchen operation, outdoor service and food trucks at Stowe Cider have all been approved by the development review board, but an application for outdoor live music was denied.
The cidery could appeal the decision, but ultimately decided not to, according to part owner Mark Ray, so as not to jeopardize their production license and other approvals they’ve won.
Though music remains part of the long-term goal for the business, it’s just not going to happen this summer. Instead, the company will focus on outdoor service and getting its kitchen up and running, which it plans to open by October.
The decision, which was released in April on a 4-2 vote from the board, said Stowe Cider failed to demonstrate how live music would not affect the character of the area, and would have undue effects on the aesthetics of the area and create undue noise pollution.
Except for special events, the board noted in its decision, there is no other similar ongoing outdoor live music permit issued within the town. Testimony from aggravated neighbors proved to the board that music from Stowe Cider’s courtyard could be heard inside and out.
Live music was initially approved without incident in the summer of 2021 before a complaint submitted by neighbor Dave Gellis and his lawyers prompted the board to reconsider and drummed up other nearby residents concerned about the too-loud music possibly being played in the cidery’s courtyard.
A permit with many strings attached was finally issued just before the end of last season.
The board is now signaling that it needs Ray and others to do more to prove live music can be properly managed without bothering the neighbors in future permit applications.
Complaints win out
At a March 15 hearing where the live music permit was initially considered, Gellis was joined once again by multiple neighbors concerned about music and noise levels that might rise to hearing-threatening decibels, despite Stowe Cider’s agreement to keep things around 85 decibels.
Gellis complained at the hearing of “complaint fatigue” and that Ray and others in charge at Stowe Cider have been unreceptive to his concerns and failed to take on the responsibility of reaching out to him and others about how they were affected, placing the burden of reaching out on them instead.
Lisa Hocker, another complainant, said that the music was damaging to her health and music blasted through her home at the nearby Village Green condominium complex. She also lobbied for tighter occupancy restrictions.
Matt Ottmer and Rob Levy complained about sound levels, and Lisa Mashaal suggested Stowe Cider’s plans had outgrown its current location.
When board chair Drew Clymer asked for a show of hands of those who had issues with noise during the month of October, the one month Stowe Cider was allowed to host live music last year, Gellis and three others raised their hands.
Musician George Petit advised that Stowe Cider be allowed to have a second chance to get things right, noting that with a proper sound engineer all the problems mentioned by neighbors could be fixed. Managers at the cidery claimed they fielded no complaints last October.