Instead of nuisance abatement at the site of the Twin Sisters Brewery in the Sunnyland neighborhood, the owners have now upped the ante with the installation of enormous illuminated lettering that looms over not only the brewery’s outdoor courtyard but the single family residences along Grant St. Imagine having your home superilluminated by such signage, which, according to the city, is perfectly legal. From the planning department comes this, “Sign permits do not require public notice and it meets the adopted municipal code standards for signs in industrial zones.”
On the other hand, the brewery management is apparently on a campaign to make nice with the rest of the city (and especially with the police department) by notifying them of extravaganzas such as a planned “charity” event that was to have taken place on October 8th with a crowd of 400 expected. This came from the brewery owner to the police chief the day of the event:
I wanted to give you a heads up we are doing a large charity event for Super Feet today in our beer garden with 400 people attending. They are giving back to their charities they support in a big way via this event. We have secured additional parking at the catholic [sic] church, but it will be a larger than normal crowd for a Monday. Plus, we are having (non amped) live music (like our Jazz Trio on Sundays) on the loading dock, but I am sure we will get some complaints. I wanted to give you a heads up in case you were asked a questions.
If you have any additional questions, please let me know!
Thanks for all your help!
I understand that the event did not gather nearly 400 people, however, this email from the brewery is illustrative of a phenomenon I noticed with local students over the past decade and a half. Having been told by the university as part of a “good neighbor” policy to notify neighbors near their rental housing when the students were planning to have a party, the students did so. Unfortunately, the students thought that this prior notification to their neighbors served to absolve them of responsibility to keep the party quiet. In that vein, another email from the brewery’s manager of marketing to the police department stated:
“I’m the marketing manager for Twin Sisters Brewing Co. We are working with the Sunnyland PTA to put on a ‘Halloween Hootenanny’ here at our restaurant in the Sunnyland neighborhood, and the proceeds will benefit the PTA fund. I’m reaching out to see if you or anyone from the Bellingham Police Department would be interested in having a “Safety Station” at our event, which will run from 5p – 8p at Twin Sisters.
Description of the Event:
Twin Sisters Brewing Co. will be the neighborhood destination for trick-or-treaters of all ages to enjoy a safe and fun-filled Halloween night. Fall and Halloween-themed décor will provide the perfect setting for an evening of games, activities, prizes, and of course candy. Admission to the event will be free, and all donations will go to benefit the Sunnyland PTA for all the fantastic programs they support, and a percentage of the evening’s proceeds will also be donated. Halloweeners of all ages are welcome, as are their furry friends. Twin Sisters will be setup with activity stations scattered around the property. There will also be live music, a miniature corn maze, costume contest, and much more! The event starts at 5p, and the children’s activities will finish at 8p. The restaurant will remain open until our normal closing time of 10p.
Would you have the availability and resources to attend? You can reach me via email or on my cell at 630-442-9402 and I’d be happy to discuss it in more detail.”
By inviting the police to mount a “safety station” (whatever that is), does the brewery think the police presence will signal an “approval” of all that takes place? Again, the brewery plans live music. Might I remind readers that the live music brought to the neighborhood on August 25th was shut down by police as a violation of the noise ordinance. [ Kumbaya Between Sunnyland/Twin Sisters Brewing Company Done As Music Is Shut Down]
Even more bands for musical events are being sought by the brewery’s marketing staff. This was posted by the marketing manager, Greg Zimmerman, on the Facebook page of Whatcom County Musicians and Friends:
“We’re going to have lots of live music in the future, so I’ll keep everyone in mind. So weird being on the booking side of things; I’m usually the one trying to get my group in the door!”
“The venue is a local brewery. The stage is outdoors and is covered.”
Also being forgotten here is a revised noise ordinance that was put into place several years ago in recognition of an allowance for entertainment venues. The revised code allowed for such establishments in clearly designated “entertainment districts” in downtown Bellingham and in Fairhaven. These districts did not include single family, multi-family or industrial zones located outside the designated areas.
Where is the Sunnyland Neighborhood Association as all this goes on? I asked the president of the neighborhood association about its involvement and received this reply: “...it is the policy of our board not to take a position on specific issues, rather, we act as a conduit for information and as a resource to foster participation in public input processes related to development, codes and other issues which impact the quality of life in the neighborhood.” The problem is that conduits carry all sorts of stuff, such as potable water and effluvia. Without neighborhood associations going to bat for homeowners, city hall will essentially have its way. However, this hands-off attitude from a neighborhood association should be no surprise since the neighborhoods now realize that they have been marginalized by our city government for the past 6-7 years, notably with the Mayors Neighborhood Advisory Commission which was removed from the zoning and land use process. Neighborhood plans have been abandoned by the city as none has been updated in the last 9 or so years.
The presence of this out-sized and ill-placed establishment is already creating rifts within the Sunnyland neighborhood as, I am told, bitter squabbles are breaking out on a closed Sunnyland Neighborhood group on Facebook. Unfortunately, the public, not to mention the actual residents of Sunnyland who might not be on Facebook or not even have a computer, cannot see what is happening.
Bad weather in the offing may temper the nuisance factor of this brewery, however, come spring the neighborhood will face a renewed onslaught from revelers and music makers. And so it goes in Bellingham…tiddly-pom.