Select Board approves all-alcohol license for Sunflower Shanty

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Select Board approves all-alcohol license for Sunflower Shanty
Select Board approved a general, on-premise all-alcohol license for Houlden Farm’s Sunflower Shanty. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

GRAFTON – Houlden Farm’s Sunflower Shanty is getting closer to opening for the season.

On June 4, the Select Board approved a general, on-premise all-alcohol license by a 4-1 vote.

The lone dissenter, Andrew Jefferson, said he was not in favor because he was under the impression that the facility would be a beer garden.

“This was not what was pitched to us as,” he said.

Rachel Houlden, who will manage the Sunflower Shanty, said the request for an all-alcohol license was made to expand its offerings – such as vodka seltzer – and to rent out the facility for weddings and other social occasions in the future.

She said had they applied for just the beer-and-wine license, “we’d have to come every weekend for a one-day [all alcohol] license.”

The board’s approval came with a word of caution.

“They’re going to have to manage this,” said Select Board member Matt Often, referring to the expanded license.

The license still has to be approved by the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Outdoor music license

After an extensive discussion, the Select Board approved the annual outdoor music license for Houlden Farm on May 7.

From May to September, the Sunflower Shanty will have live music Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 8:30 p.m., and six Thursdays during that period from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

In September and October, live music will be performed on Thursdays from 4 to 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 1 to 8:30 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. (acoustic only).

The schedule came after a compromise between board members and the farm’s Tyler Houlden.

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“We’ve been going through this process,” said Houlden. “I want to respect these people [the neighbors] and move on.”

“We need to get this settled once and for all,” said Select Board member Mark Alimo.

Earlier this year, the Planning Board approved a special permit and site plan approval for the farm’s use as a seasonal outdoor eating and drinking venue, along with live entertainment.

The permit is subject to several conditions, including noise control, trash removal and traffic.

Live music will be performed within a temporary enclosed structure, facing northeast. When not in use, the structure will be dismantled and stored.

Parking will not be allowed on Wesson Street, Old Westboro Road or on neighboring properties.

While some neighbors support live music to help keep the farm in operation, others have stated their opposition.

“Is there really a need for amplified music 140 feet from our home on the weekdays or even Sundays until 9 p.m.?” said neighbor Jennifer Rychlik in an email to the Select Board.

The Sunflower Shanty offers food, beer, wine and ice cream, along with children’s activities. Dates for 2024 have yet to be announced.

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