I’m not even sure how the Board the Board of Appeals after considering how every allegation against the owners has been proven to be false still intends to punish this place which has done nothing but continue to operate and honor the long time family traditions that every previous owner did at The Lobster Pool In Rockpoprt.
The Lobster Pool supports local lobster prices including buying lobster from Gloucester and Rockport lobstermen, and generations have been bringing their families to enjoy traditional lobster boils which of course Rockport is famous for.
For a minute imagine you make an investment in a business and run it exactly the same way it had been run for decades and then you got the rug swept out from under you devaluing your business by half over absolute harassment from people that are writing in slanderous things and spreading false rumors like you were trying to put in Rock and Roll bands when all you were doing was reapplying for the same license that every previous owner got every single year to announce when the orders were ready on the PA system?
Read this article from the Times and tell me the owners aren’t getting harassed-
New ownership at the Lobster Pool has reinvigorated a long simmering dispute between residential neighbors and the Granite Street restaurant about parking, noise, and visiting diners.
The latest brouhaha is over the number of diners the seaside eatery can seat.
Residents recently submitted a complaint to building inspector Paul Orlando regarding the picnic tables on the outdoor lawn. A more than 40-year-old town law limits the restaurant to six picnic tables, a cap Orlando admitted was sometimes exceeded by the previous owners. Bradley Atkinson, who co-owns the Lobster Pool with Ryan Cox, Myles Cox and Noah Goldstein, said when they bought the property two years ago, there were 24 tables outside.
Next Wednesday, the four new owners will ask the town Board of Appeals if they may return some of those tables to the lawn after Orlando had them remove all but six in response to the complaint.
“The only reason we’re filing this is because they’re telling us we have to remove all but six tables, which would end the business,” Atkinson said. He and his co-owners would like to add more tables because six tables is sometimes too few for 36 diners. Often a couple will take a table, or a family of four. “When it’s nice out, no one wants to sit inside.”
Some neighbors have complained about how many diners the restaurant serves. “I believe the capacity was set, a long time ago, at 75 or 74 people at a time,” said former Selectwoman Ellen Canavan, a Granite Street resident. “They have exploded it so instead of 74 people, there have been 150, we even counted 168 and it’s overwhelming the neighborhood.”
In fact, some neighbors were so vocal that there were far more customers last summer at the Lobster Pool than in past years that the Board of Health assigned a food inspector to investigate. Over the course of August and September, the inspector visited 13 times during the restaurant’s rush hours on weekend nights, and the highest count was 65 people.
They have also complained about non-existent expansion plans.
“They are requesting an expansion of their seating from 36 to 96, quite a big jump,” resident Mark Richard wrote in an email of the Lobster Pool owners’ request to add more tables outside.
The new owners say they are not expanding; they would just like to seat the numbers of diners allowed. Again, after hearing from neighbors, the town looked into the matter; in September the Board of Appeals found that the restaurant is permitted to seat 60 diners inside and 36 outside, for a total of 96, a cap that has existed for decades.
Parking in demand
There have been other complaints, which Atkinson, the Coxes and Goldstein have attempted to appease.
“All of a sudden the road on Route 127 became a massive parking lot with cars all over the road,” Canavan said, citing why she does not want more seating outside at the Lobster Pool.
Neighbors approached the town Parking Commission last year, blaming the owners for the traffic chaos. The complaint resurfaced at a Board of Health meeting in July; board members told the neighbors parking is at a premium because the area, including nearby Halibut Point State Park, is a well-known tourist attraction. “Several divers, Halibut Point goers, and runners, walkers park at the site,” Board of Health member Dr. Sydney Wedmore said.
And it wasn’t only visitors. Other people said and later photographic evidence showed some neighbors were parking on the street instead of in their driveways, making Granite Street look busier than it already is.
At the time, the new owners voluntarily hired a police detail on the summer weekends to try to ease the street parking problem, at a cost of about $2,000, Atkinson said. “Again, we wanted to work with the neighbors,” he said.
Easing noise, odors
A next-door neighbor suddenly found a dumpster that had remained in the same spot since the restaurant opened in 1954 was now a nuisance. The sounds of it being emptied and the odor it emitted were disruptive, the neighbor said. “Without telling us that it was a problem, they went to the Board of Health,” Atkinson said. The owners willingly complied with suggestions from the board, built a canal and moved the dumpster, which cost them $5,000.
“We said, ‘We want to work with you, we don’t want any problems,’” Atkinson said regarding the neighbor.
When the new owners went to renew an “entertainment license,” rumors spread all over town and on the Facebook page “Rockport Stuff” that they were trying to bring in live music and rock ‘n roll bands. The license was actually for the speaker system outside the building used to announce when an order was ready. “We were never going to do music,” Atkinson said. Then some neighbors claimed the speaker system, which had been used for decades, was disruptive.
“We’ve run it the same way it’s always been run,” Atkinson said. Rather than fight, the owners replaced the speaker system with a new handheld buzzer system to notify customers that their order is ready, which Atkinson said cost more than $1,000.
And finally there is the restaurant’s septic system.
“The residents simply want the pollution to stop,” Richard said in an email statement.
While the septic system did fail a Title 5 inspection, there is no evidence of fecal matter leaching into the wetlands. “That’s a rumor certainly and speculation,” Wedmore said Thursday.
The new owners expected the failure and required the previous owners to put money in escrow to cover the purchase of a new system. Atkinson and his co-owners have two years to replace the current tank with a new tight tank; they are working with the Board of Health to accomplish that.
“All we are trying to do is keep business as usual,” Atkinson said.
Mary Markos may be contacted at 978-675-2708 or firstname.lastname@example.org