Mattapoisett couple appeals nightclub decision

Dec 26, 2016

The building commissioner and the Zoning Board of Appeals agree that the Inn on Shipyard Park isn't operating as a nightclub, but neighbors George and Maureen Butler say otherwise. And they're appealing the Zoning Board's Sept. 29 decision to Superior Court.

The appeal is the second filed by the couple regarding the Water Street restaurant and bar.

The Butlers filed an enforcement request with Building Commissioner Andy Bobola that sought to stop activities they deemed in keeping with a nightclub, including the volume of the music and the primary usage of the establishment. Since nightclubs are not allowed to operate in Mattapoisett Village, the town would have required the inn to close or to alter its operations.

Bobola declined to respond to the request, and the Butlers, represented by their attorney, Tom Crotty, tried to build a case for the inn as a nightclub with video footage recorded by the couple and other evidence.

The Zoning Board, however, sided with Bobola and denied the request, prompting the Butlers to file an appeal to the Superior Court, according to Crotty.

He said you “never know” what could happen, but for now it doesn't look like a decision will be made until sometime in 2018 – at least a year and a half from the time the appeal was filed in early November.

Opponents have filed a motion to dismiss the litigation, and Inn owners Nils Johnson and Andrea Perry are hoping the end is in sight.

“I would love it all to just go away,” said Johnson.

The Butlers also appealed a decision upholding the expansion of the inn's porch. That petition was filed approximately six months before the nightclub appeal and is scheduled to follow a similar 18-month path, unless it gets dismissed.

As for the nightclub appeal, Johnson said it should be between the town and the Butlers and his company shouldn't be on the list of defendants.

“I’m not the town governing body. There's no reason I should be in a legal battle. That’s a question for the town,” Johnson said.

Additionally, he said the inn has not overstepped its entertainment license, and they're not operating the establishment differently than previous owners. At the September meeting, in fact, many supporters spoke up saying the inn is more quiet and orderly now than it was several decades and several owners ago.

The consistent support from customers has been an encouragement to Johnson as communication with the Butlers has not improved the situation.

“We are really humbled by everyone taking the time to care about the inn,” he said.