Story by Katie Bisaro
Just over a year ago, Baird’s Tavern located at 105 Main St. in the Village of Warwick, received approval to open as an eating and drinking establishment under the direction of restaurateur Adam Powers through an agreement with the Town of Warwick Historical Society. In the original site plan, presented to and approved by the Village of Warwick Planning Board in April of 2017, it was stated that there would not be a kitchen or an open flame. As agreed upon, menus from local restaurants would be available to patrons who could have food delivered to the tavern.
Seeking Approval for Outdoor Smoker
Powers, who owns Fetch Bar & Grill, Village Billiards, and Fizzy Lifting Soda Pop Candy Shop in the Village, as well as several food trucks, appeared before the Village of Warwick Planning Board on Thurs., Jun. 21 to seek approval for an outdoor smoker on the grounds of the tavern. He was accompanied by Lisa-Ann Weisbrod, Executive Director of the Historical Society, and Sarah Colley, General Manager of the tavern. The Historical Society owns Baird’s Tavern.
The lean-to structure that houses the smoker as well as an adjoining patio area, have already been built on the site.
Questions Regarding Location of Structure
Planning Board Engineer, David Getz, of Lehman & Getz Engineering, reported that the submitted drawings of the structure and patio, and their orientation with respect to the tavern building, differ from what he observed during a field inspection of the site with Planning Board Chairman George Aulen. Mr. Aulen was not present at the Planning Board meeting.
The Planning Board members and Powers discussed the actual location of the structure on the property versus where it is depicted on the submitted drawings to ensure the required set-back distances were met. According to Powers, the drawings were created quickly in order to meet submission deadlines to appear at this meeting.
A building permit had been issued by Boris Rudzinski, Village Building Inspector, prior to construction of the lean-to built to house the professional, competition-grade smoker. The Health Dept. has also been to the site.
‘Take-away’ Counter Service Only
There will be the same seating as is currently outside the tavern, no difference in the number of parking spots, no outdoor music nor outdoor drinking. There will be “take-away” counter service only.
Smoke is Clear, Odorless
According to Powers, smoke is only visible upon being first lit, after that only “blue,” or nearly clear, odorless smoke is emitted. He stated there will be less exhaust from the smoker than from other nearby restaurants. The only fuel will be wood, no propane or gas is involved. He added that the smoker is the exact same as one used by The Helm in Greenwood Lake.
Board members inquired as to the disposal of the ash generated. Powers explained that this type of smoker generates less ash than a typical home fireplace or barbeque. It will be properly disposed of in a can that is up to code. Powers then uses the ash as compost in his gardens.
The members of Planning Board asked Powers to supply a letter from the Fire Department documenting their approval.
Full Support of the Historical Society
Weisbrod, as Executive Director of the Historical Society, furnished a letter of support for the project and noted that Baird’s Tavern is a huge source of revenue for the society as well as “revitalizing” its membership.
“The success of Adam’s business [at Baird’s Tavern] directly correlates to the success of the Historical Society,” said Weisbrod. “In eight months, Adam single-handedly doubled our membership…we have a whole new audience.”
Through the lease agreement, the Historical Society receives over $36,000 per year, which breaks down to $3,000 a month to rent the Historic Tavern. Additionally, Powers maintains the property including the landscaping and driveway.
No Adverse Environmental Impact
The Planning Board reviewed and reaffirmed the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) for the site and accepted a negative declaration, determining that the project does not have any adverse environmental impact.
Plan Conditionally Approved
Getz pointed out that the map detailing the location of the lean-to needed to be amended for accuracy. He also noted that if the structure is less than 10 feet from the property line, a variance would be required from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Planning Board Secretary, Maureen Evans, reported that the Building Inspector verified the distance to the property line when he issued the building permit.
The Planning Board approved the project on the condition that the site plan is amended showing the accurate location and size of the structure and patio. The set-back distance must be verified and the dumpster must also be screened off from view.