By M.E. Jones, Correspondent
HARVARD - One was a hearing, the other was not, but the outcome was the same when selectmen granted two entertainment licenses Tuesday night. The licenses were for a year and for a single event, respectively.
The one-year license was granted to the Center on the Common - formerly the old library - after a formal public hearing, duly posted.
Proponent Bob Hubert, whose non-profit group leases the space as a cultural center, said the plan is to host a jazz series once a month, "miscellaneous music" on Sundays, and arts presentations, mostly lectures, the first of which will be held this coming Sunday. At least two of the three events will be fundraisers, he said, with tickets sold and food served.
Hubert, who lives next door to the building, said letters had been sent to abutters about the center's plans and that neighbors were invited in last week. In addition, he spoke to Police Chief Edward Denmark about parking. "He seemed comfortable with our plans," Hubert said.
With no public objection or comment, the selectmen after some discussion granted the license, with conditions.
For example, there must be an on-site manager for the events, to take place within certain hours on specific days of the week, and a contact number must be filed with the public safety dispatcher.
Noise was a concern. All events will be held indoors, at least this year. But the board discussed how to ensure that neighbors would not be disturbed and if they are, what the remedy should be. To that end, Selectman Ron Ricci drafted a condition to deal with that. The board batted it around awhile, fine-tuning the language.
They decided that even if "loud" was hard to pin down, the intent was enough. Ricci acknowledged it was "subjective," but the condition is simply a promise to neighbors, he said, assuring them the center intends to be a good neighbor and to keep the noise down.
Tim Clark said that accountability has been at issue with other organizations' events in the past, but that's been addressed in this case.
"I'm confident it will work out," Bill Johnson said. And if a problem arises, the board can address it by adding more specific conditions later.
For now, Selectman Marie Sobalvarro suggested setting a 24-hour time limit for response to complaints. The other selectmen agreed and voted unanimously to grant the license.
Unitarian Church Gets One-Day License For Gala , Salter Still Miffed
Billy Salter, of Elm Street, continued to object to the one-day entertainment license sought by his neighbor, the Unitarian Universalist Church. Again, he asked the selectmen not to grant it. The license is for a single event, Harvard Schools Trust annual gala, to be held in the church fellowship hall on March 16.
Salter acknowledged that the parking problems he brought up at the last meeting had pretty much been solved, or at least addressed, but he cited poor management of the facility as rental space and insisted the church board wasn't up to the task yet. He also reiterated earlier accusations that the board violated its own policy by deciding not to hold a formal public hearing, with legal notices, letters to abutters and waiting periods.
Instead, the board opted to follow a new policy that applies to repeat applications only, announcing at a previous meeting that the matter would be discussed next time and calling for public comment before making its decision.
Salter wasn't satisfied but said he wouldn't belabor the point. Still, he insisted that revised church rules allowing up to 200 people in the hall if they are not seated isn't safe, especially in a building without sprinklers. "My house burned down, so maybe I'm paranoid," he said. But he wonders if the fire chief would approve that number, he said.
Asked how many people would attend the gala, trustee Molly Cutler said the trust expects to sell about 124 tickets, as usual, but typically some who buy tickets don't come.