RICHMOND – A historically authentic renovation of a two-frame barn on the scenic Balderdash Cellars farm site overlooking Richmond Pond is expected to be completed by next spring to host weddings and other celebrations, as well as concerts, wine tastings and culinary specialties.
The restoration by David E. Lanoue Inc. Building & Design is intricate, delicate and intricate, starting with the piece-by-piece dismantling of the two-section barn. The oldest frame dates from the late 1700s, Lanoue explained. The “most recent” addition is believed to date from the mid-1800s, although he pointed out that this precise dating is difficult without scientific analysis.
The dissected barn is trucked to his workshop in the Van Deusenville section of Great Barrington, where restoration will be carried out over the winter, Lanoue said.
Then the repaired sections will be returned to the cellar for reassembly next spring. The Lanoue company has restored at least 50 barns, the oldest dating from 1693, according to dendrochronology, a scientific process that dates wood by the growth of rings. It uses dry oak and white pine to match the original construction.
Lanoue’s dedication to handcrafted reconstruction stems from a “sense of history, of loving old things and being able to tell the difference between something quality and something machine made.” Work agrees with me. It’s not a bad way to spend the day.
Christian Hanson, co-owner of the farm and winery with his wife Donna, declined to disclose the cost of the restoration. But the completed barn will be central to the 23-acre farm’s business plan, which includes hosting up to 35 weddings per year as well as wine and food tastings with live music.
According to the council’s revised special permit approved on February 24, outdoor amplified music is limited from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, but drums, bass guitars, electric guitars, and horns are not allowed.
To address the concerns of some neighbors of Richmond Shores, outdoor performances require “acoustic curtains” to limit noise on the stage.
After the renovated barn is reinstalled, the revised permit allows amplified music inside, behind closed doors, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, said Christian Hanson.
Nonetheless, four neighbors sued the city, its three Select Board members and the Hansons last March in an attempt to revoke the amended special permit.
The complaint to the Berkshire Superior Court called the Select Board’s decision “arbitrary and capricious, erroneous and beyond the authority of the Board of Selectmen.”
The civil lawsuit asks the court to ban Balderdash from holding agricultural functions involving music. Neighbors also demand that the building inspector “monitor and enforce the sound levels generated by any agricultural activity”.
The lawsuit, filed by Richmond Shores residents Alex Rosenblum, Alison Cole, Peter Miller and Miles Garfinkel, targets the city and board members Alan Hanson (unrelated), Roger Manzolini and Neal Pilson as defendants .
The complaint, revised April 8, adds Primadonna LLC, the company formed by the Hansons, and Berkshire Winery LLC, doing business as Balderdash Cellars, as defendants. Neighbors said they were harmed by the review of the Select Board’s special permit because “it deprives them of the peaceful enjoyment of their properties and allows driving and activities that generate excessive noise.”
Christian Hanson told The Eagle last week that he anticipates a favorable legal outcome and said overall he feels welcomed and supported by most Richmond residents. Despite the legal battle, he added, he doesn’t regret moving his business from Pittsfield three years ago.
The Hansons and their companies are represented by lawyer Alexandra Glover of Lazan Glover & Puciloski in Great Barrington.
“Balderdash is operating under the license issued by the Select Board, and therefore its winery and ‘agricultural functions’ can and will go forward without interruption, regardless of the lawsuit,” she told The Eagle.
Representing the city, attorney Elisabeth C. Goodman, partner at Cain Hibbard & Myers in Pittsfield, said that “the Board of Selectmen, after numerous hearings, issued a detailed special permit decision with conditions for the organization. agricultural events in Balderdash. The council made a commitment to hire a noise expert and incorporated the expert’s recommendations into its decision, including requiring the landowner to install a large acoustic curtain.
“Four residents have filed a lawsuit to overturn that decision or have the decision changed to require the erection of noise barriers, which the Select Board actually included in the permit,” Goodman added. “It is not clear exactly what the plaintiffs wanted to accomplish by filing this complaint, but that will now have to be determined by the court. “
The Balderdash property consists of 2.5 acres at 79 State Road and nearly 21 acres at 81 State Road.
The winery business plan has been reviewed at several planning board and board meetings over the past three years. The city’s original settlement allowed a wine estate for agricultural purposes, but not the presentation of outdoor events. The revised Town Planning Council regulation regulates various events and concerts as “farm functions” providing additional income “to promote the sustainability of agriculture, improve our community and preserve open spaces.”
The Neighbors Complaint claims that events held at Balderdash after the Select Board granted a special permit in July 2019 involved “loud music and large crowds and interfered with the plaintiffs’ right to quietly enjoy their home.”
They also allege that the original noise control conditions for the special permit were “so vague in their terms that they were inapplicable and did not reduce noise from the property during the events”.
Glover, counsel for the Hansons, said “the city has gone the extra mile to protect the stops here. The city retained the services of an acoustic engineer who produced a full report after testing the acoustics on site. The test result was actually positive for Balderdash. Since the lawsuit was filed before the new terms came into effect, it seems premature for plaintiffs to dispute the sound they think they’ve heard in the past. “