DRACUT — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday voted 4-0 to grant an all alcoholic beverages club license to The Shoreline Restaurant and Beach Club, the site of the former Club Fleur-De-Lis.
The new club is owned by Betty Ann and James Enwright, of Dracut. Though the property on the narrow Elm Street (which runs along Long Pond) straddles the Dracut/Tyngsboro line, the town of Dracut acts as the sole licensing authority per an agreement with Tyngsboro.
"We're very excited that we'll be here to start our new business over there and start a new restaurant to bring to the community," said James Enwright moments after the license was granted. "Where people and their families can enjoy themselves."
Tuesday's vote, for which Selectman Joseph DiRocco Jr. was absent, came at the end of a public hearing that had been delayed a few times over paperwork issues. In late April, about a dozen residents spoke at a Board of Selectmen meeting about the Enwrights' plans for a fine dining establishment. Many expressed their concern over issues resurfacing from the past: traffic congestion, noise, and parking woes for the residents of Elm Street.
Mary Cantor, one of several Tyngsboro residents who spoke up during the April 23 meeting, said she was in total support of the work that's being done. She said what's being proposed is an improvement.
"We've lived with an eyesore, unfortunately," Cantor said. "I'm looking forward to the improved, higher-end property that he's (James Enwright) proposing."
Attorney Courtney John Ball, who spoke on the Enwrights' behalf at that meeting, said the new owners are aware of issues related to Club Fleur-De-Lis and won't repeat them. He also said his clients understand that having a license is a privilege, not a right.
Years ago, neighbors complained of then Club Fleur-De-Lis owner Gail Meredith fencing off pond access to Dracut neighbors. They said she claimed the Tyngsboro neighborhood boat launch as her own private property. Meredith, in response, said she never forced area boaters to pay club membership fees to use the ramp.
Selectmen Chair Jesse Forcier at the April 23 meeting wanted to know about the enforcement of the public boat ramp. James Enwright noted that they can't enforce the boat ramp because it's owned by the town of Tyngsboro.
"We're not going to allow the boats to park on our property, which will cut down on a lot of traffic on the lake, which I know is a big concern for people who live on the lake," Enwright said.
The Shoreline Restaurant and Beach Club is a two-story restaurant with a long deck and six four-top tables, as well as a cabana with three four-top tables. There is no current plan for entertainment but, down the road, Ball said the owners are potentially looking at an acoustic guitarist on occasion.
Mary Lanzillo, a Tyngsboro resident who lives on Elm Street, said she is in support of the new owners. She expressed her concern over parking and trash. Lanzillo said she has been blocked from pulling out of her own driveway.
The restaurant will be open to the public.
"We're going to limit membership for the dock and the beach area to residents of the neighboring towns," Ball told Selectmen on April 23. "So if you're not a resident of Hudson, Pelham, Dracut or Tyngsboro, you may buy a one-day membership and sit in the restaurant and have dinner."
That one-day membership is $2 and will be added to the restaurant bill.
In stark contrast to the public hearing in April, there were only about a handful of people in the audience Tuesday night by the time the vote came up on the agenda. No neighbors spoke.
"I will say this: the Enwrights are excited for the renaissance of the parcel," said Peter J. Nicosia, an attorney who spoke Tuesday on the Enwrights' behalf.
Nicosia added that he feels the business would be a welcome addition to the town's economic development.
Betty Ann declined to comment Tuesday, but at the April meeting assured officials and residents of both Dracut and Tyngsboro of her and James' intention.
"We're there to have a nice restaurant, somewhere to come and eat, have a couple of drinks, go home. Not spend your whole night there drinking, carrying on, sitting on the beach, taking your clothes off. That's not gonna happen," she said. "So that's what we're there for. We want to make memories. We want to make people happy. We want to be good neighbors."
Amaris Castillo: @AmarisCastillo on Twitter