Porky's BBQ pavilion is in violation

NEW HAVEN — The New Haven Development Review Board has concluded that a pavilion built by Porky’s Backyard BBQ and Smokehouse, at 7404 Route 7, is in violation of its business permit.

The board plans to issue a written decision by Dec. 2.

In August, New Haven zoning administrator Aaron Brown issued the restaurant a Notice of Zoning Violation for using its outdoor pavilion without a certificate of occupancy, serving alcohol in that pavilion without a license, and hosting more events per month in the pavilion than are allowed in its permit. The pavilion is to the rear of the restaurant.

At a Nov. 18 hearing to appeal that violation notice, the DRB upheld the first of those violations and issued clarifications regarding the other two.

Because Porky’s already serves liquor in its restaurant, the DRB will allow it to be served in the pavilion from now on, DRB Chairwoman Kathy Barrett said in phone interview with the Independent.

Regarding event hosting, rather than citing Porky’s with a violation, the DRB further defined what is meant by “event.”

The restaurant’s original permit allows for a maximum of eight outdoor events per month from May to October, and a maximum of eight indoor events per month from November to April. Those events must end by 11 p.m.

Going forward, the DRB will define any non-restaurant activity that extends beyond 9 p.m. as an “event.”

SECOND HEARING

The same night, the DRB held a second hearing involving Porky’s.

At that hearing, the DRB rejected the restaurant’s amended site plan, which in part requested expanded use of a portable toilet for outdoor events.

The original permit specified that the toilet had to be removed from the premises on the first business day after each event.

The DRB instructed Porky’s to obtain all applicable state wastewater and health department permits — the latter because the portable toilets do not provide hand-washing capabilities, Barrett said.

The outdoor pavilion will be closed through the winter, so Porky’s has until spring to obtain the relevant permits — after which time the town could issue a certificate of occupancy for the pavilion.

At that hearing the DRB also clarified what conditions must be met for the outdoor pavilion to be considered “enclosed.”

Currently, according to Brown, the western side, plus about a third of the north and south sides, are enclosed with wood. The rest is covered with heavy tarps.

The DRB has decided that the current state of enclosure is sufficient, Barrett said.

NOISE

The business has been the subject of a number of complaints since last winter.

At the March 18 DRB meeting, when owners Lonie and Chrystal Parker requested four changes to the business’ existing site plan, residents Bob Beach, Paul Bolduc and Rita Booska expressed concerns about noise and light emanating from the business at night, especially on evenings when there were bands playing live music.

In a follow-up meeting on April 1, resident John Van Hoesen also expressed concern.

According to a recent letter to the Independent written by New Haven resident Fred Sargeant, the problems still persist.

“I am not an abutter to Porky's,” Sargeant wrote. “I live a mile and a quarter across the valley from Porky's. The music is so loud that we can hear the lyrics of the songs in my dining room with the windows closed. On Oct. 26, the music was so loud that it could be heard over my TV — a mile and a quarter away. Abutters aren’t so lucky — they can’t escape the din. The town must address this noise problem for the coming year.”

Once the restaurant is issued a certificate of occupancy for the outdoor pavilion, the zoning administrator could walk the property line during events and take noise measurements with an appropriate meter, Barrett said. The town does not own decibel-metering equipment, and Barrett said mobile phone apps that measure decibels are not considered to be reliable.

The Parkers declined to comment for this story.

A Nov. 18 post on the restaurant’s Facebook page suggested, “The meeting went more than well.”

The Independent reached out to Rita Booska’s attorney, Kevin Brown, but he did not respond in time for this story.

Once the official DRB decision is issued, “interested parties” will have 30 days to file an appeal with the Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court, Brown said.

No fines have been levied against Porky’s in connection with its notice of violation, he added, saying the case would likely have to make its way through Environmental Court first.

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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