GREENWOOD TWP- Bay View Lodge did not get an answer, Tuesday, when owner Alissa Sundberg asked the Greenwood Town Board to renew the business’s annual liquor license. The town board routinely approves such requests, pending completion of required paperwork and proof of insurance. The actual liquor license is granted through St. Louis County.
Bay View was fined this past year by St. Louis County for underage liquor sales, a violation of their license, but this was not the reason for the town board’s reluctance.
Instead, it was the still-simmering issue of the outdoor music noise that created the resistance.
“Quite frankly, Bay View was not a good neighbor last year, in my opinion,” said Supervisor Tom Aro.
Attorney Shawn Reed, who attended the meeting with Sundberg, noted that the issue on the table was the liquor license, not the outdoor noise. He noted that there had been a change in ownership in Bay View last fall, and the former co-owner, who managed the business last year, was no longer part of the business.
“Alissa wants to be a better neighbor,” he said, “and build the business that way.”
Reed noted that Greenwood does not have a noise ordinance “per se.”
“I am asking the township to give her a chance,” he said, noting the township cannot simply regulate one type of noise.
“It’s a legal morass,” he said.
Sundberg, who also is owner/manager of Sawmill Saloon in Virginia, is now living at Bay View. She said she has sent letters to all the area residents who signed a petition about the outdoor music issue last year, and is willing to work with the neighbors to address concerns.
“I will be providing hands-on management,” she said.
Last year Greenwood approved the liquor license with limits on outdoor music, limiting the time to 10 p.m. The township received numerous complaints that this limit was not followed.
Reed asked that the township approve the license with a similar clause, limiting outdoor music to 10 p.m. Sundberg said they are looking at having live music once or twice a week, on the weekends, with outdoor music ending by 10 p.m. She noted that some of the complaints last year might have been from noise from the outdoor fire ring, and from boaters playing amplified music out on the water.
“With someone responsible living on the site,” she said, “we will have more control over those issues.”
The Greenwood Planning Commission passed a rule that outdoor amplified music be regulated through a conditional use permit. Sundberg submitted a CUP this year, but then withdrew the application.
Township Chairman Gene Baland wondered if the township should hold a public meeting on the issue.
“Maybe this needs a fair hearing,” he said.
Aro noted that when the permits for the deck expansion were approved, it never discussed outdoor music. He also stated that there were some unresolved septic permitting issues.
Planning Director Julia Maki said that approval of the liquor license is contingent on all planning and zoning issues being in compliance.
“It’s a land use issue,” she said.
Sundberg noted that Bay View is a major taxpayer and employer in the township, with a payroll of about 40 people a month in the summer. She said the business pays $65,000 in taxes a year.
Bay View is moving forward with installation of a new septic system this fall, she said, at a cost of between $100,000 and $150,000.
“Our competition,” she said, “Fortune Bay, Wolf Bay, The Landing…all have outdoor music in the summer.” She noted that noise is an issue year round from things like motorboats, snowmobiles, and jet skis.
“We need to have outdoor music to survive and compete,” she said, noting that the costs of running the resort are much higher than simply running a bar/restaurant.
Supervisor Don Doroff said that for many residents on Birch Point, the outdoor music can “spoil the whole summer.”
Aro noted that many of the complaints were from the outdoor karaoke, which was loud and sometimes contained profanity.
Sundberg said that karaoke could be moved indoors. She said almost all the outdoor music was local groups like “The Divas” and smaller groups of one, two or three musicians.
“We are not having rock bands out there,” she said.
Supervisor Kirsten Reichel suggested the board get a legal opinion on the issue.
“We have some very angry residents,” she said, “we need to approach it a little more carefully this year.”
The board decided to table the issue until their May 14 meeting, which gets underway at 6:30 p.m.