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Planning Board kerfuffle postpones vote on proposal to expand outside area of Backbar, so Hudson restaurant could open during pandemic rules

May 13, 2020 6:05 am
The Hudson Planning Board did not grant a temporary approval to Backbar May 12, as the bar and restaurant wanted to expand its customer serving area to hold the same capacity as before the pandemic over a larger area. During a physically distanced meeting with a webcast at wgxc.org, the Planning Board seemed unprepared for how the city's bars and restaurants will all need more space to open under pandemic rules, especially with proposals to close down Warren St. and put businesses on sidewalks already being floated locally. The board seemed unclear if expansions of this type needed the approval of the planning board, or Craig Haigh, the city's Code Enforcement Officer, or both. Several board members were also dismissive of the artwork that accompanied the proposal, one calling it a "very rough, ugly, inaccurate sketch." Attorney John Friedman, representing Backbar, then blew up at the Planning Board saying: PLAY THIS EXCERPT. Then several members of the board said they were prepared to grant a temporary approval of the proposal, but Friedman's outburst had changed their plans: PLAY THIS EXCERPT. After a four-hour meeting, and over an hour of discussion on just this project, the board punted its decision to a meeting, not a public hearing, at 6 p.m., May 18, asking Friedman to come back with several specific questions answered. Listen to the full meeting in the WGXC Audio Archives.