Little Compton Council nixes Stone House entertainment license

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LITTLE COMPTON — The Little Compton Town Council last Thursday night unanimously denied an application by the Stone House for an entertainment license that would have allowed the facility to stage up to 25 "outdoor events" over the 2017 summer season.
The events, said the Stone House in its application, "will be conducted primarily on weekends," with the maximum number of participants expected at the largest event limited to 175.
The "entertainment events" to be offered, the Stone House said, would be "Weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate events and private functions."
The council denied the license application, said Town Council President Robert Mushen, "on the basis of the failure by the Stone House to comply with our previous direction to seek direction from the zoning board."
"I quite honestly don't know what they're doing," Mr. Mushen said when asked what the thinking was behind the Stone House's application in the face of a zoning opinion last November by the town zoning official, George Medeiros.
In a short letter opinion dated Nov. 13, 2016, Mr. Medeiros had stated that indoor uses at the Stone House could continue as non-conforming uses under the town zoning ordinance.
Outdoor activities were different, however, he said. "Any proposed outdoor activities are considered an intensification of the con-conforming use and a special use permit would be required."
Faced with that opinion, the Stone House requested the withdrawal on Dec. 8, 2016 of a pending entertainment license application that was to have been considered by the town council on that date, and the council voted unanimously to allow the withdrawal "without prejudice."
The Stone House returned to the council on Feb. 13, 2017 (at a meeting that was to have been held Feb. 9 but that was postponed due to a snow storm).
At the Feb. 13 meeting, according to the minutes, the council unanimously voted "to take no action" on the license application, and "to direct the Stone House to return to the Town Council after they have sought zoning relief."
This is precisely the "direction" that the Stone House failed to take in submitting its application to the council last Thursday.
An earlier (and longer) zoning certificate, dated May 2, 2016, by William Moore, the zoning official who was Mr. Medeiros' predecessor, differed in some particulars (e.g regarding temporary outdoor structures such as tents, parking, the number and size of events) from the opinions Mr. Medeiros expressed, but both officials made it clear that the town zoning board was the venue for resolution of differences of opinion.
In its discussion of the number of events it plans to conduct if granted a license, the Stone House application signals its thinking about limitations it may face.
"Reserving and without waiving any rights thereto (given the existence of anticipated or existing litigation related thereto), the Stone House voluntarily agrees" to hold no more than 25 outdoor events during the 2017 season.

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