West Tisbury selectmen gave the Lambert’s Cove Inn permission to serve food and alcohol outdoors this summer, but not before hearing concerns from abutters about noise in the neighborhood.

Inn owner John Cain presented the proposal for outdoor dining to selectmen at their meeting Wednesday. The request was for 12 tables and seating for 48 in the inn’s English garden. The garden is about 5,000 square feet, he said, and could fit many more guests.

“A lot of people are not comfortable eating inside,” Mr. Cain told selectmen. “We want to be able to serve outside to lower the risk of transmission. Also, we are a business. Business is struggling.”

Situated on Manaquayak Road in West Tisbury, the inn is allowed to operate in a residential neighborhood because it predates residential zoning bylaws.

A group of abutters, all of whom said they live within 500 feet of the English garden, raised concern about the potential increase in noise close to their properties. Aware of the struggles of local businesses during the pandemic, abutters also said they wanted to work with the owner to come up with an acceptable plan for outdoor dining. They asked selectmen to consider reducing the number of outdoor seats, require them to be in a different area, and restrict music and entertainment.

“The concern that we do have is with the location of the English garden,” said Andy Kaye. “There are events there from time to time, and we do pick up noise.”

Dan Scherlis concurred. “I join my neighbors in supporting outdoor dining, I think we would be wrong to oppose John Cain’s efforts to provide a safer experience,” he said. “And I also do share my neighbors’ concern about noise.”

Though abutters were cordial, Mr. Cain was criticized by town zoning board of appeals member John Rau, who said the inn had seated people outdoors last weekend without town permission.

“Mr. Cain has known for some time that he needed a permit from selectmen to do this,” Mr. Rau said. “He went ahead and did this anyway, without a permit.”

Mr. Cain denied the claim. Town administrator Jen Rand said there had been a miscommunication between the inn manager and the town health agent.

In the end, selectmen voted unanimously to approve the full request, and said outside music or entertainment will not be allowed. They also said the permit can be reviewed and revised if issues arise.

“If early on it becomes clear that noise is an issue, we can deal with it then,” said selectman Cynthia Mitchell.

— Will Sennott