HARWICH — A recent disciplinary hearing on complaints about noise emanating from Perks in Harwich Port has selectmen agreeing they should look at more consistent practices when issuing entertainment licenses for restaurants.
The recommendation comes from Town Administrator Christopher Clark, who told selectmen the attorney representing Perks cited the need for more consistency with regulations, including uniform hours for entertainment and the criteria for measuring noise. In Perks' case, selectmen followed Clark's recommendation to issue a warning because this was the first season with significant complaints.
Clark sent selectmen a memo pointing out that current entertainment licenses issued by the board state noise levels are not to exceed the licensed premises. He said the language does not address music allowed to be played outside.
“I recommend that the board vote to remove this language from the licenses, therefore changing the standard that music within a dwelling should be contained within the building. Any music inside or outside, should adopt the standard used in the noise bylaw,” Clark stated in his memo.
That bylaw states: “It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to cause or allow any noise which emanates from any building, boat, structure, vehicle, premises, or any sound amplification system, which is plainly audible at a distance of 150 feet from such building, boat, structure, vehicle premises or sound amplification system.”
In addition, Clark recommended that in the interest of maintaining a harmonious balance in the commercial/residential district, the board adopt uniform hours for entertainment licenses along Route 28 in Harwich Port.
By way of example, Clark recommended no entertainment on Mondays and Tuesdays; entertainment ending at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and entertainment ending at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Clark presented selectmen with a breakdown of entertainment licenses issued to six establishments in Harwich Port. Embers is allowed to have indoor music from 5 to midnight on weekdays and outdoor music from 5 to 10 p.m. They do not have a Sunday entertainment license.
Land Ho! is allowed weekday entertainment from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Sundae School is allowed weekday entertainment from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mad Minnow is allowed weekday entertainment from noon to 10 p.m., Perks from 6 to 10 p.m and Salt Block Food Truck from 10:30 a.m. to midnight.
“There should be consistency for everyone,” Clark said. “Let everyone play with the sames rules.”
The recommendations were made for the Harwich Port corridor because there have been noise complaints about Embers Coal Fire Pizza and Wing, The Port and Perks, he said. People from The Melrose, the senior living facility across from Embers, have been in to see him about outside music there, he explained.
“Harwich Port is pretty tight, there are houses all around restaurants,” Selectman Angelo LaMantia said.
Police Chief David Guillemette said this is a very contentious issue and he would appreciate getting further direction on it. He said the 150 feet in the anti-noise bylaw is pretty much a standard, though the decision is up to selectmen. He said the present language relating to no outside music comes from the board of selectmen's 2011 regulations.
Selectman Jannell Brown questioned Clark's proposal for no music on Monday and Tuesday, citing those days as potentially slow periods for restaurants which might use music to draw people in. She also recommended Jake Rooney's be included in the corridor restaurants where uniform provisions are issued. She suggested the board specify only acoustic music be played outside.
Then there is the issue of how to deal with the chamber of commerce's Port Summer Nights, where several bands play outside on Wednesday evenings. There were also questions about why they are only looking at the issues in Harwich Port.
Clark said this is where the issues are emanating, but if there are issues raised from someone else in town, selectmen can still address complaints through the entertainment license they issue to those establishments.
Selectman Peter Hughes suggested the board have a hearing and let people speak to these issues. The board doesn't want to kill business, he said, but it's a discussion they need to have.
Clark said changes to the entertainment license need to be addressed before licenses are issued for next year. Selectmen have set a public hearing for Monday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Board members questioned the time of year for holding such a hearing, pointing out some members of the community may have left for the winter. Clark said the board would accept written testimony so people wishing to make comment do not have to be present for the hearing.