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Selectboard tables outside consumption liquor permit for Arkham

BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard voted May 21 to table discussion on whether to award an outdoor consumption liquor permit to Arkham, a bar at 16 Harmony Place, pending submission of a design for fencing.

The board requested owners Alan Blackwell and Alyssa Blittersdorf, of A&B Squared, LLC, return June 4 with a proposed fence system that will corral patrons, prevent the passing of alcohol beyond the property, meet the fire code, and allow police to view activities within.

Arkham faces the Harmony Parking Lot and is located among other businesses and below residential apartments. The bar shares a wall with Metropolis Wine Bar, the couple’s other business, which faces Elliot Street.

Blackwell and Blittersdorf said A&B Squared shared the town’s concerns about noise and off-site alcohol consumption, and that they were eager to meet the town’s requirements on all fronts.

“We don’t take any of this lightly,” Blackwell said.

According to Blackwell, Arkham is determined to be a responsible business and neighbor, is “extremely aggressive” in addressing noise concerns, often staffs a doorman, and has an always-on security camera.

The owners have sketched multiple fence designs. They said they hope to find one that balances security and aesthetics, and allows light in through Arkham’s lone window.

“We’re happy to do whatever you suggest,” Blittersdorf told the board.

Police Chief Eugene Wrinn told the board May 21 that his department opposed granting the permit unless outstanding noise and public safety concerns were properly addressed.

The police have received multiple noise complaints from upstairs apartments, Wrinn said, adding that his department also is concerned about patrons passing alcohol across the fence to people in the parking lot.

Selectboard chair David Gartenstein said he had “substantial concerns” about granting the permit under the status quo.

“There’s real concern about substance use and substance abuse in downtown,” he said.

That said, if the outdoor area could be restricted enough to meet all the concerns of the police department while also meeting fire codes, Gartenstein felt he could get behind granting a permit.

But, the chair did not feel comfortable granting the permit without specific designs or plans.

“I don’t want this activity spilling into the parking lot,” he said.

The board recently granted Peter Havens, an upscale restaurant on Elliot Street, an outdoor consumption permit.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #205 (Wednesday, May 29, 2013).

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