Outdoor entertainment on tap for Threshers Brewing Co.

Popular brewery runs afoul of permit restrictions
By Ben Holbrook | May 08, 2017
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Ethan Evangelos, right, one of the founders of Threshers Brewing Co., meets with Planning Board members the evening of May 2 to discuss hosting live music outside the brewery.

Searsmont — Owners of Threshers Brewing Co, a popular craft beer destination in the Midcoast, found themselves embroiled in a dispute with town officials over whether outdoor live music events are permitted at the business.

The company, which is located in Come Spring Business Park near Fraternity Village Store, opened its doors about a year ago, offering several craft brews on tap. Owners Ethan Evangelos and Scott Bendtson also encouraged local bands to come to the brewery to play music.

Most recently, the pair hosted an outdoor live music event on the property, which drew numerous people to the business. However, the event also caught the attention of Code Enforcement Officer Frank Therio, who informed Bendtson and Evangelos that such events fell outside the bounds of their permit.

Up until that weekend event, Threshers Brewing had a permit to brew beer and also run a 30-seat tasting room in the building. The permit did not, however, include outdoor entertainment.

Fearing their brewery operation might be in jeopardy, the two put out a cry for help on the company's Facebook page asking supporters to attend a May 2 Planning Board meeting. Their plea was answered and numerous supporters attended the meeting, packing into the Town Office.

Before the meeting started, First Selectman Bruce Brierley reassured attendees that the town was not trying to shut down Threshers.

“We're not against it, we just want to do things right,” the first selectman said.

The purpose of the May 2 meeting was to allow Planning Board members to review an amendment to Threshers' original site permit that would allow the business owners to construct a covered area outside the brewery. The 16-by-24-foot area would provide cover for patrons during live music events, Evangelos said.

Evangelos said the covered area would be sited to the right of the entrance to the brewery.

Music events would probably be held Saturdays, Bendtson and Evangelos said, and also possibly on Fridays. They estimated such events would draw 40 to 50 people. Alcohol will be allowed to be consumed outside, pending selectmen's approval.

During discussion, Planning Board members questioned whether a septic system installed on the property has enough capacity to handle additional demand. Currently, the septic system is designed for 15 employees — not all of whom work in the brewery — who occupy the building where Threshers is located, Catherine Robbins-Halsted, chief financial officer of Come Spring Business Park, said. The system is designed to be further expanded, she noted.

Brewery patrons to date have been using a portable toilet on the property, Evangelos said.

Planning Board members also requested more information about handicapped access on the property and written documentation from the state fire marshal that a sprinkler system is not needed in the building.

Before discussion ended, Evangelos asked if a special permit is needed to have live music.

Town Clerk Kathy Hoey said state statute requires towns to have a special amusement permit, which governs events such as live music. The town, however, does not have such a permit at this time, but will be discussing the matter in the future. She said it's unclear exactly when the town will discuss a special amusement permit ordinance.

For now, Threshers' owners submitted a special amusement application copied from the city of Belfast's website. A public hearing regarding a special amusement permit for Threshers is scheduled for May 15 at 7 p.m. in the Searsmont Community Building meeting room.

After the meeting, Evangelos and Bendtson thanked their supporters for attending.

The board will meet again June 6 and most likely will vote on the application at that time.

 

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