NEWBURY — A proposal by a popular local restaurant to offer entertainment one evening a week has sparked renewed concerns from residents over parking and traffic issues on Plum Island.
The Board of Selectmen Tuesday night tabled a request by Mark Friery, owner of The Plum Island Grille, to offer on-site entertainment on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. for 12 weeks. The board wanted to hear directly from the owner, who was not present for the discussion, regarding what type of entertainment he was intending to offer and how the restaurant has handled entertainment it has presented in the past.
But nearby residents Lee Ann Eagan and Carol Doyle registered their opposition to the request, citing a lack of oversight by public safety officials in enforcing occupancy restrictions in the building as well as ongoing, unresolved parking issues in the area.
Eagan said occupancy checks are not being conducted at night when the restaurant is busiest, a claim that fire Chief William Pearson, sitting in the back of the room, appeared to confirm. The building has a maximum capacity of 95 people.
Doyle said she was concerned that the addition of entertainment would bring in more customers, adding to existing parking headaches in the neighborhood. She added a proposed sign to advertise the weekly entertainment would be a traffic hazard.
In response to Selectman Geoff Walker’s question about what the restaurant could do to satisfy their concerns, Doyle said, “Provide its own parking and having no parking on the street.”
While the board agreed it was inclined to approve the request once it received a few more specifics, Selectman Dave Mountain suggested safety officials and the building inspector conduct spot checks to make sure occupancy standards are being met.
In other business:
Town Administrator Tracy Blais announced that because of the federal government’s prescription drug program, MedEx Plan costs are decreasing 6 percent.