Selectman takes aim at Black Dog serving alcohol

Mr. Israel says cafe not following town procedures, and also takes aim at where pot can be sold.

Members of Tisbury town leadership meet with a representative of Ernie Boch Jr. and abutters on Sept. 1 at 20 Beach Road. Mr. Boch is planning a private park on the vacant lot. — Stacey Rupolo

After a summer of delays and continuances, the Black Dog Bakery and Cafe withdrew an application to serve hard alcohol at the 509 State Road location.

But the popular eatery could face a challenge to how it serves beer and wine.

Selectman Tristan Israel again went on the offensive about how the cafe does business, saying the concept of having customers order beer and wine at a counter is not in keeping with the guidelines set up for restaurants. Beer and wine orders are supposed to be taken at tables by servers who then deliver the drinks, he said.

“It was explained to us how people currently get a drink of beer and wine, and that was not — just for the State Road cafe, downtown is fine — and we were told someone goes up to the counter and makes that request, and that was not the spirit of how the rules and regulations were supposed to work,” Mr. Israel said.

At previous meetings, Black Dog officials have explained that drinks are brought to the table by servers. Before the end of the year, he said, Black Dog should be alerted that this is an issue.

All beer and wine licenses, as well as all-alcohol licenses, are renewed on an annual basis. “I’m not prepared to renew their license,” Mr. Israel said.

No one from the Black Dog was at Tuesday’s meeting. Rob Douglas Jr., chief executive of the restaurant company, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he told The Times in June the Black Dog is not violating the town bylaw.

“We read the law,” Mr. Douglas said at the time. “So show us where it says you can’t be served at a table if you order at a counter.”

The board did vote unanimously to accept Black Dog’s request to withdraw its application for an all-alcohol license.


Taking aim at pot

Selectman Israel also took aim at potential marijuana sales in Tisbury. “I would like us to submit a zoning bylaw to exclude marijuana from being sold in the B-1 district,” he said. Essentially, that would prohibit sales on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

“I don’t want to see it in our downtown, gateway area,” Mr. Israel said.

Towns that voted against a referendum to legalize marijuana can prohibit pot sales, but towns like Tisbury that overwhelmingly approved recreational marijuana can only set aside areas of town where it’s allowed, he said.

Selectman Melinda Loberg said she’d like to see a broader discussion, with community input, on where pot sales would be welcome.

Ben Robinson, chairman of the planning board, told the board his committee has a list of bylaws it is considering for annual town meeting. He agreed to add potential zones for recreational marijuana sales to the list. “I can’t say where it will end up,” he said.

Zoning changes have to undergo public hearings and be approved by town meeting.


Ernie Boch Jr., come on down

Town leaders want to have further discussions with Ernie Boch Jr. about the private park he has planned for a vacant lot at 20 Beach Road.

Still concerned with public access to the park, as well as with access to an easement that Mr. Boch would like for a sewer line, the town would like to discuss it further.

Town leaders met with a Boch representative at the site two weeks ago to discuss the proposed easement.

Mr. Israel wants to use that easement to see if the town can get some concessions from Mr. Boch, who is proposing a park that would include flower gardens, a courtyard with a compass rose, and boardwalks, but would be closed off to the general public by fences and gates because of liability issues.

“The only leverage we have is the easement,” Mr. Israel said, noting that he would like to see if an offer of helping to maintain the park and to pay for insurance would ease concerns about liability. “If they’re going to shut off the water access, we have the easement. We’ll play poker,” he said.

Ms. Loberg questioned whether that was a good idea, considering the upgrade to the sewer line would be beneficial to the town as well.

In an interesting development, Mr. Robinson said it’s possible the compass rose patio could force Mr. Boch to seek a special permit from the town’s planning board. Parks that have impervious surfaces require special permits, he told the board. As part of the special permit process, public access could be addressed, he said.

“If we’re not getting an answer we want, we should consider if [the park] requires a special permit,” Mr. Robinson said.

Ultimately, the board asked town administrator Jay Grande to reach out to Mr. Boch to ask him to meet with selectmen.


School parking plans

What seemed like an innocuous discussion about a parking lot adjacent to the Tisbury School turned into a rant from Selectman Israel.

The school wants assurances that it can continue to use the former DPW lot in the future and to make it part of its plans going before the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Mr. Israel said he had private conversations with school officials where he suggested the one-year lease agreement be extended to 15 years.

But when Selectman Loberg mentioned that the issue came up earlier in the day at a school meeting and officials pointed to past town meeting action making the lot for school use, Mr. Israel went off.

“This annoys me to no end,” he said, noting school officials should be happy with a 15-year lease. “It’s just petty to me.”

Ms. Loberg attempted to douse the rant, saying that it was a suggestion, not a “battle cry.”

Both Mr. Israel and chairman Larry Gomez said school officials should provide for maintenance of the lot.

Mr. Robinson, planning board chairman, said reconstruction of the lot would be part of the overall package for the proposed new school.


Other business

As if that wasn’t enough, the Tisbury board of selectmen had a jam-packed agenda.

Selectmen authorized Mr. Grande to seek additional funds for the State Road/Tashmoo Overlook from Community Preservation funds. Mr. Grande is putting together an application for annual town meeting in the spring.

The board also authorized spending an additional $5,000 for Strategic Partners LLC, a consultant that did an evaluation of the police department and its hiring and discipline practices. The board had authorized Mr. Grande to seek $10,000 from the finance committee, but that board wanted more information. Mr. Grande asked with the estimate now cut in half if the board would take the money from its own budget. Board members agreed, but only if the finance committee says no to the $5,000 transfer.

Selectmen had their first reading of proposed parking regulations, but agreed to hold a public hearing before putting them in place. Among the changes would be a kiosk system for the park and ride lot for long-term and commercial users of the lot.