Should Nyack Noise Go Until 2AM?
Are Nyack’s bars and patrons too loud for too long into the early morning hours? Or are there a handful of residents who are using the police to stick it too the late night crowd and their favorite Nyack haunts? The Chamber of Commerce of Nyack brought business owners and village officials together to discuss the issue.
However, what the Chamber of Commerce did not explicitly explain was the fact that all their research involved restaurant owners solely- they did not interview a single resident to see the flip side, in an effort to find a noise-friendly happy medium.
Police enforcement of the current noise ordinance relies on the officer’s judgement to determine if the noise is excessive at a distance of 50 feet away from the venue, anytime after 11PM. If it is, they claim a citation will be issued. However, they do not even own the tools required to enforce the decibel laws, that are on the Nyack law books as well. Nor, do they have a common understanding of what direction the 50 feet rule applies. Is it only in front? The sides? Behind? Wouldn’t you think it would be 50 feet all around? How do they treat condominiums? Wouldn’t the police stop a live band playing at 1 AM in a residential condo? So why don’t they do it now if it is “breaking” a law? The law is the law after all. If we don’t enforce, what does this teach us?
Merchants say that in the past, the police wouldn’t respond until similar complaints were heard from five or more residents about the same noise source. But now it seems like five calls from the same angry person are enough to get Orangeburg’s police involved.
Under current police procedures, a violation is forwarded to the NYS liquor authorities. According to the manager of the Black Bear Saloon, this can get very expensive, very quickly: the legal fees to defend against this action can cost more than $10,000 to defend a baseless charge. Nyack Mayor John Shields promised to meet with police to suggest a “three strikes and your are out” policy which gives bar owners a chance to clean up their act before involving the liquor board.
Village Trustee Denise Hogan recommended a decibel threshold being added to the current noise ordinance as a far way of determining when things audibly get out of hand.
Merchants say they are trying to be good neighbors by lowering the volume. The Black Bear is spending $15-20,00 on building a vestibule and sound boards to keep the noise inside and not out. However, the problem may not be the bars themselves but the hordes who congregate on the sidewalks outside to chat, smoke — and sometimes get rowdy.
I praise Black Bear for their efforts to actually take some action. I think if establishments want to act like venues, they should spend money on properly sound-proofing them like venues. Sometimes a place is just not fit for a venue, especially when there are tenants directly above, paying for a place of “peace and quiet.”
Nyack resident and musician David Reese says “music in Nyack is no louder than it is anywhere else.” Reese spoke to the Village Board last week about how police enforcement of Nyack’s noise ordinance on musical events at establishments like Hudson House and Casa Del Sol are forcing Nyack’s late night venues out of the music business. Nyack resident Adam Blankfort contested Reese at a Nyack Village Board meeting some weeks ago, explaining that he and his neighbors cannot fall asleep before 2 AM Thursday thru Sunday because of excessive routine noise. Furthermore, he asked, “Are these places restaurants or music venues? Should a place like Casa Del Sol be allowed to have live music under a plastic roof less that is about 1 inch thick? The noise radiates so badly, it sometimes can rattle a painting off our wall.”
Chamber of Commerce President Bob Gunderson says in the past enforcement may have been too lax but it is now too strict. “We need to find a happy medium,” he says.
Join us in a very important board meeting on February 12th. The Chamber of Commerce is trying to gather all the restaurant folk together to change the noise law to 2AM when residents think it should start being enforced where it currently sits, 11PM. This is your chance to speak up!
Be at the Nyack Village Board at 7PM on February 12th, 2009.
This excessive noise could also be the cause of late night street rowdiness, where local stores get windows smashed and other residents get bothered by late-night drunk commotion. Another solution…? Ticket cars in the lots, etc., after 12 AM to control the issue and make a little extra bread for Nyack.