HARWICH — Establishments providing entertainment in Harwich Port will have to adhere to new noise level regulations after selectmen Monday night tweaked proposed regulations one more time before approving them.
This was the third hearing before selectmen over the past month on proposed noise regulations designed to appease the business community and residents in the mixed-use district. After two sessions in which residents and business owners cited provisions that would be acceptable to them, there continued to be requests for alterations to the proposed regulations Monday night.
Police Chief David Guillemette was not present for the second session and this week took exception to a proposed provision that would allow inside entertainment until 11 p.m. or the liquor serving closing, whichever is later. That provision came about following discussions a week ago about having music stop a half-hour before liquor serving ends.
Cliff Connell, an owner of the Claddagh in West Harwich, took exception with the proposal to end entertainment before the serving hours conclude, stating people would leave the establishment when music ended and that would have an adverse impact on the business.
Guillemette took exception to allowing entertainment to run until the conclusion of the serving time. He pointed out people would not likely comply with the departure criteria for establishments, stating if music ends at 1 a.m. and there are still people in the establishment at 1:05 a.m., that is a violation. He recommended a midnight entertainment shut down.
“This provision would allow a live band to play until 1 a.m. which I would be concerned about,” the police chief said.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill wanted to know if a half hour before the end of serving time would be acceptable. Guillemette said he'd like to see an hour and that a half hour is “bumping up against the time line.”
Selectmen agreed with the chief, voting to require that entertainment end an hour before liquor serving time terminates.
Taylor Powell, manager of Perks in the center of the village, also sought some leeway on Friday and Saturday nights to shutting down outside entertainment at 10 p.m. Powell said he's been in Florida and had a complication with a flight last week and could not make it to the previous hearing.
He said they are a small business and count on weekend patrons, adding that a lot of people do not come out until 10 p.m., especially those coming from Boston who have to fight heavy traffic and often do not get here until 10 p.m. He said the additional hour on 17 days over the summer “will help all the businesses in town.”
Powell praised the efforts of selectmen for the research they have done on the noise issue, but he also had questions about how the police department will implement these provisions, particularly “reasonable sound levels” which are “plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet.” This can be a personal judgment which is different from one person to the next.
Guillemette said when officers respond they make a judgment on the 150-foot distance, then listen and make a judgment call. If noise is plainly audible, they contact the establishment and tell them it's too loud. Officers can issue a $150 ticket for the first offense but can also give a warning.
“I don't think there was a situation where there wasn't a warning,” Guillemette said of past situations.
Perks was the one establishment cited for noise complaints this summer. Those incidents and a few other complaints registered with Town Administrator Christopher Clark initiated selectmen looking at implementing provisions in the town's noise bylaw in Harwich Port.
Selectman Julie Kavanagh expressed support for the 11 p.m. outside entertainment cut off on Fridays and Saturdays, saying the board should not lose sight of just having two months of peak business over the summer. But Gillemette pointed out such a change would not address the concerns of some of the residents who had spoken in previous sessions, including those who live inside the 150-foot zone.
Selectmen voted to approve the regulations for entertainment licenses along Route 28 in Harwich Port, allowing inside entertainment every day until 11 p.m. or until 60 minutes before liquor service closing, whichever is later. No entertainment at a licensed establishment may be conducted in a manner such that the noise is creating a nuisance and can be heard outside the boundaries of the premises.
Outside entertainment is allowed every day until 10 p.m., with the standard being reasonable sound levels which are not plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet from the property line or source of sound amplification system, whichever is farther.
Clark recommended the board consider the change for this year as a trial before expanding it throughout the town.