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After Delay, Smolak's Entertainment License Renewed

The license had been delayed for noise discussions.

File photo of Smolak Farms. Credit: Courtesy of Smolak Farms
File photo of Smolak Farms. Credit: Courtesy of Smolak Farms
Selectmen voted Monday night to renew Smolak Farms' entertainment license.

The license renewal -- for May 1 through Dec. 31 -- comes with condition that soundproofing be installed at the business' event tent, and event hours be adjusted to keep nighttime noise down.

"This is a difficult decision, we're trying to do what's best for everyone involved," Selectmen Chair Rosemary Smedile said.

Selectman Bill Gordon, the no vote, wanted the farm to receive approval of their event tent by the state under agriculture regulations. But that condition was not voted on.

Specified hours would be Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 12 to 9 p.m.

In mid-December, selectmen voted to delay the renewal after Smolak farms neighbors brought an attorney to request a delay due to noise concerns at the business's night events.

Although Smolak's entertainment doesn't start until May, Selectmen chose Jan. 6 to resolve the matter since people are already booking events for the spring and summer.

"We have a bunch of nervous mothers of brides who have booked with us," owner Michael Smolak said.

Discussions focused on site design, tent noise control and hours of entertainment, Smolak said, adding that he was already working on tent noise absorption with a sound engineer before the noise issue was brought up.

"We walked away friendly and with respect for each other, and that's the way I like to lead my life," Smolak said.

But Smolak said moving the tent would be impractical, since that is where the business's parking is and the tent wouldn't make sense anywhere else on the farm. And as for changing event times (closing time of 7 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. was suggested), that would be problematic as well, he continued, because there are already commitments this year.

A new site plan would allow the turning the tent around away from Dale Street to limit noise, Smolak said. And he agreed to have events end at 9 p.m. on Sundays and weekdays.

Smolak Farms has about 20 events in the summer that have music and about 20 without music, and nighttime events make up 82 percent of Smolak Farms' revenue.

Attorney Tim Schiavoni of Haverhill said the farm's events have changed from barn gatherings and agriculture to the nighttime events seen today.

"Every single Friday and Saturday there's an event and it goes to 10," Schiavoni said. "So if you put the baby to bed and want to open windows, there's noise. If you want to have a cookout, there's noise. The weddings and events are not tied to agriculture."

Schiavoni argued that in the 1980s, much of the farm was designated for agricultural use and that having weddings and other events may conflict with state regulations. Schiavoni then demanded Smolak obtain from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to have the event tent.

"I don't think it's reasonable to have after daylight events on a farm in a residential district, and I don't think any of you would like it," Schiavoni continued. "It's noisy. It does not belong there."

Smolak replied that the parking lot area, where the tent is, is not designated for agricultural activity.
MikeA January 07, 2014 at 11:03 AM
I hope this works out for all involved but ... it sounds like this might not be over ... Nice job keeping us informed. And thanks to the selectmen for making these difficult decisions.

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