By Jim Clark
Friends and operators of Arts at the Armory were thrilled, while certain neighbors of the arts and entertainment venue were dismayed, as the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the requests that were made to ease restrictions on hours of operation and alcohol consumption limitations at a meeting held last Wednesday.
The Armory pleaded with the Board to allow the changes in order to remain functioning as a viable venue for the arts in Somerville. The non-profit entity cited a need to extend their operating hours as well as their occupancy capacity from 390 to 495 persons. Additionally, they have sought permission to be able to cook on the premises both for the Café and the hall itself. The Armory is also looking to apply for a full liquor license.
After hearing from many local residents who opposed the requests as well as advocates for the rules changes over the past several weeks, the ZBA finally voted last week to go along with planning board recommendations that granted most of the Armory’s wishes.
A number of residents who live near the facility argued against the proposals, citing noise and drunkenness issues as strong arguments against the changes. Proponents of the plan argued that keeping the Armory in business was good for the community as a whole and was a necessary step in assuring the organization’s survival.
Recent renovations intended to improve the building’s noise abatement abilities were taken into consideration, as well as police testimony regarding the noise levels issue and regulation of alcohol sales.
While cautioned that city ordinances must not be violated, the Armory was ultimately presented with a green light to proceed with the proposed plans for improving its business model.