By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – At the Dec. 22 meeting of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen, the board denied a request from the recently opened Hooters Restaurant on Route 9 to shoot unloaded muskets outside the restaurant.
The informal written request asked approval to allow a squad of re-enactors to fire their unloaded but noisy musket rifles outside of the restaurant during a New England Patriots party on Dec. 27. As it was a request for discussion rather than a hearing, no vote was requested of the selectmen.
Chair Moira Miller began the discussion by saying that muskets are loud and they are shot during a game at different times. But her concern, she said, was that when a prior licensing hearing had been held for Hooters, concerns were brought up by residents about outdoors activities. At that time, Hooters management had said there would not be any outdoor entertainment. Secondly, Miller said, if that was to change, the restaurant would need to apply for a special permit. None of this, she noted, was subsequently done – “They just opened and it is a residential area.” She concluded by noting that this request would be for outdoor entertainment and thus it should not be allowed.
Selectman James Kane replied that he was ok with the request and wasn’t concerned that it violated what the restaurant had previously told the board during licensing hearings. Selectman Maurice DePalo, too, had little problem with the request, but then reconsidered since Hooters had previously stated that it would provide no outdoors entertainment.
The tide of the discussion then turned, with Selectman John Lebeaux stating that this would indeed be outside entertainment, in violation of the zoning bylaw, and a bad way to establish the business’ relationship with the board. He questioned why the board would extend this courtesy to a new business when established businesses would be denied the same courtesy. To this, Selectman Henry Fitzgerald noted that as a new business Hooters in Shrewsbury had no track record of good behavior upon which to base such a request. DePalo then said he was reversing himself, noting that the board hadn’t let the Chili’s Restaurant (which had been the previous business at that location) provide outdoors entertainment.
Miller then asked for a sense of the board and members agreed that they opposed the request.