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5 Takeaways From the Jan. 25 Select Board Meeting

Tree House Brewing shares more detailed plans; Montuori outlines FY24 budget

The Select Board met last night without member James Mackey.

First up was Tree House Brewing with a preview of plans for the main Club House building, including layout, golf, food and entertainment. Sarah Maggi Morin, chief of staff, and Allison Masley, regulatory specialist, appeared for Tree House Brewing with attorney Mark Borenstein of Bowditch & Dewey.

The first floor will feature brewery-style group and bench seating in the main ballroom, a new pizza kitchen, a retail store in the former Tavern for merchandise and to-go beer and a specialty bar and lounge area in the smaller event room space, according to Borenstein. On the second floor, watch for a speakeasy, the “Outlook” bar with outdoor patio seating overlooking the golf course and a small private event space in the former bridal prep room. 

There will be additional gender-neutral restrooms added on both floors. 

Outdoors will be a 20-foot mobile kiosk on the course where golfers will be able to purchase beverages in distinctive 24-oz aluminum bottles unique to Tewksbury. This will allow Tree House to monitor consumption. Tee times will be by online reservation; in response to a resident question, Maggi Morin said that after the facility is up and running, some leagues might be accommodated.

“This is the very first golf course Tree Brewing Company has ever owned and operated,” she said. “So out of the gates we’re going to take it really slow and try to do an outstanding job before we can contemplate additional programming.” 

Member Jayne Wellman asked about spaces for community events, and Maggi Morin answered that there will be options for local groups.

“We do room rentals,” said Maggi Morin. “As we get our feet under us, we can expect that to be an option.”

Anthony Ippolito of Eagle Drive spoke, as did a number of Eagle’s Landing residents in attendance. Main points of contention are markings on the entry and exit road, sidewalk accessibility, access to Eagle Drive for workers and delivery vehicles, traffic, potential noise and a future parking plan.

There is also concern over consumption of alcohol on the golf course. Trull Brook allows alcohol on the course and has had no major problems.

“There are checks and balances,” said Borenstein. “All our staffers are TIPS certified.”

Tree House formally requested alteration of licenses to allow for consumption areas within the main building as well as patios and the golf course, along with the tavern area that is currently being used for pours. Borenstein also requested the addition of distilled spirits; besides beer, Tree House produces a variety of spirits including vodka, gin, rum and canned cocktails.

The company offers pizza in other locations and formally requested a Common Victualler License to do so in Tewksbury. 

Customers are also welcome to bring in their own food. 

There’s entertainment planned, including live acoustic and recorded music and televised sports from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. The expectation is recorded music at an ambient level and perhaps a guitarist on the patio.

“Outdoor entertainment would be live acoustic music,” said Borenstein. “There won’t be rock concerts on the golf course.”

All four requests were approved 4 – 0. 

“Change is difficult,” said Chair Todd Johnson, pointing out to the Eagle’s Landing residents in attendance that the Tewksbury Country Club had more expansive alcohol service and entertainment licenses.

“It requires collaboration, cooperation, and we’re counting on Tree House to be an excellent neighbor,” said Johnson.

The Tewksbury Club House is scheduled to open in May. And yes, it will be painted the same color as the outbuilding.

After a pole petition by National Grid for Pine St. and presentation of a plan to provide underground utilities to new homes on Kenzie Marie Way while protecting a mature oak tree — including having an arborist on site — the board approved eight Common Victualer Licenses for the new owner of Tewksbury’s Dunkin Donuts locations.

Next Town Manager Richard Montuori gave the initial fiscal year 2024 budget presentation, including projections for property tax increases and school spending.

Some key points:

> Town department heads were asked to present level service budgets, meaning they will provide residents the same services as 2023 though not necessarily at the same cost.

> Departments were asked to provide three priorities they wish to see funded.

> The town’s cherry sheet offset, funding that flows from the state budget to city and towns, will be directed to the library.

> The revenue split for town and schools is about 49% for the town, 51% for schools, not including Shawsheen Tech and Essex Aggie. That’s roughly on par with FY23 spending.

> Solid waste costs are jumping $580,447 while school department salaries will rise $1,119,780, including new custodians for the new elementary school.

Total FY24 recommended appropriations is $133,584,765, up from $129,245,158 in 2023.

On the revenue side, the new growth expectation for FY24 is $1,101,448. On both the town and school sides, salaries are the largest line item.

The average residential tax bill, if values and the tax shift stay level, is expected to be $8,039, an average projected increase of $239. Tewksbury is close to the middle of neighboring communities in terms of the average single-family tax bill.

As in 2023, property taxes represent 80% of revenue.

State aid is expected to be level funded, with adjustments made in July once the state finalizes its numbers. On Monday, Gov. Maura Healey said she would fully fund the Student Opportunity Act and assist school districts with the cost of transporting students amid a nationwide bus driver shortage. Healey also said that her first budget will fully fund the McKinney-Vento program, which supports homeless students, according to The Sun.

“The budget is balanced, which is always a good thing” said Montuori. He is keeping a close eye on solid waste costs, the impact of the State Hospital on services, unfunded liabilities and keeping the stabilization fund close to 10% of the budget to maintain a solid bond rating.

“We’re also hearing that there is talk of possibly a new school from Shawsheen Tech,” said Montuori. “How that impacts the town is something we need to keep an eye on.”

Johnson asked that the budget portion of the meeting be presented as a separate program on the town’s YouTube channel.

“The detail is much appreciated,” said Johnson ‘’This is what I would characterize as a respectful budget. It encompasses the additional service staffing that we asked Town Meeting to support, and they did. So we’ve executed on that.”

The Board will vote on the final budget closer to May Town Meeting. Residents interested in more detail may wish to tune in to the Finance Committee on Jan. 30, where there will be a breakdown of budget requests by department.

In member reports, Wellman noted a Black History Month film series presented by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee in conjunction with the Library and TMHS. See the flyer, below, for a full schedule. All films are free and open to the public.

The Select Board meets next on Feb. 15.

Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.


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