Plans for a small outdoor patio at the popular Mast Landing Brewing Co. will receive a public hearing next week, after members of the Westbrook Planning Board had reservations about potential noise disruptions.

The fenced-in area, which has already been built, is adjacent to the brewery’s tasting room space at 920 Main St., near the corner of William Clarke Drive and Mechanic Street.

Jim Fisher, a civil engineer from Northeast Civil Solutions, presented the patio plans to the Planning Board last week. He said if approved, the addition would add picnic tables within the fenced-in area, providing outdoor seating during the summer months.

Mast Landing, the city’s first craft brewery and tasting room, has become a popular destination since it opened in March, and the brewers have been creating an ever-evolving list of beers for customers to sample. Local businesses have also begun serving Mast Landing beer on tap.

Board member Dennis Isherwood made the motion for a public hearing, based on what he said is a potential impact on neighboring residents, who live in a duplex on the corner of the intersection.

Mast Landing leases the building from Storage Realty LLC, which is owned by David Elowitch. The Elowitch family has a long history with the property, stemming from the former Maine Rubber site that was situated next door. That land is where ConvenientMD will be building its new urgent-care facility.

In its application, Storage Realty requested that the approval be forwarded without public hearing, given the short window of summer months for Mast Landing to capitalize on the outdoor seating.

Public comment is not allowed during a regular agenda item, so it is up to the board to decide whether a particular item warrants a public hearing.

Planning Board Chairman Ed Reidman said that generally, if a board member expresses concern and would like a public hearing, one is usually scheduled. There are no additional requirements or criteria for the Planning Board in deciding whether to hold a hearing.

The board came under some criticism earlier this year when they did not hold a public hearing on a Blue Spruce Farm site amendment that changed a condominium project into more apartments. Members of the public came to speak against the measure, but were not allowed to speak.

“If everything around it were commercial, there probably wouldn’t have been any concern,” said City Planner Jennie Franceschi.

The board voted 6-1 to hold the hearing, with Rebecca Dillon providing the dissenting vote.

The decision was met with some disappointment from the community, as well as the brewery’s customers, on social media.

On a Westbook community Facebook page, some people called the decision “short-sighted.”

Others said Westbrook needs to support its claim to be “business-friendly,” and that outdoor seating areas make the city “more attractive.”

Ed Symbol, the owner of Full Court Press, and a former president of the Westbrook-Gorham Community Chamber, said, “Let’s live up to our business-friendly signs posted at the gateways.”

Following last week’s meeting, Ian Dorsey, Mast Landing co-founder and president, posted on the company’s Facebook page, thanking customers for their support.

“Thank you to those of you who sent emails to the city on our behalf. I am sorry to say that the Planning Board did not approve our outdoor space,” he said. “Instead they postponed us until July 19 for another public hearing. We need your help to get this pushed through and approved before summer is over.”

He also urged people to contact local officials.

“We need to let them know that this is a good step forward for Westbrook!” he said.

Fisher said that the existing fire code caps the number of tasting-room customers at 49, whether that is indoors or outdoors.

The brewery’s tasting room is typically open until 8:30 p.m., but Fisher said the outdoor seating would only be open as late as there is natural light.

Board member Rene Daniel asked why the applicant built the fenced-in area without having the city approval first. Fisher said the building owner didn’t need a permit to build a fence on its own property.

“We really wanted to get this going as soon as possible,” he said, adding that they have not added the picnic tables yet. “We can’t use it until we have the approval. Otherwise, it’s just a fenced-in back yard.”

Mast Landing Brewing Co. has become a popular destination in downtown Westbrook. An outdoor patio will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday, July 19.

A closer look:

The Westbrook Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Storage Realty’s request for an outdoor patio at Mast Landing Brewing Co., on Tuesday, July 19, at 7 p.m., in Room 114 at Westbrook High School.

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