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Nov 20, 2008 12:10 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach might ban amplified outdoor music by next summer

Nov 20, 2008 12:10 PM

It could be a lot quieter on Main Street in Westhampton Beach next summer, as the Village Board is now considering banning amplified music—nearly three years after it drafted legislation that permitted such music.

At the end of a nearly two-and-a-half-hour-long work session last Wednesday night, November 19, the trustees agreed that they needed to reexamine, and possibly revise, the village’s noise ordinance and its music permitting process. One of the possibilities now on the table is that they could outlaw amplified music on Main Street. If adopted, the change would still allow certain instruments, such as acoustic guitars, cellos, banjos and violins, and small amplification systems for singers.

“We’re going to take a proactive stance to clean this up by the summer,” said Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler, who led the effort several years ago to create a permitting process for local businesses to provide live music on Main Street.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller echoed Mr. Kametler’s comments after the meeting, stating that he would “recommend limiting the amplification” of live performers in the downtown business district. “We’ll have a public hearing on it,” Mr. Teller continued, emphasizing that an amplified music ban is “just a proposal that’s been thrown out there.”

During the work session, Erin Finley, the owner of Sydney’s “Taylor” Made Cuisine on Main Street, asked the board about its regulations regarding the music permitting process. She stated that the amplified music coming from Shock Ice Cream was so loud at times this summer that it was impossible to use a phone or have a conversation inside her shop, which is located a few doors down.

“What are the number of violations before the [music] permit is revoked?” Ms. Finley demanded.

Ms. Finley also wanted to know what penalties are in place if business owners offer live music on Main Street on days that are not covered by their permits. Village officials stated that revocation of the permit is one possible punishment.

As Ms. Finley was addressing the board, Trustee Joan Levan stated that her specific questions about the music permits would be answered in time, noting that board members intend to review both the village’s permit process and noise ordinance over the winter.

Ms. Finley kept pressing with questions about the permits until Trustee Toni-Jo Birk cut her off and stated, “You brought up some great points.” Ms. Finley left the meeting a few minutes later.

Elyse Richman, the owner of Shock, Baby Shock and Shock Ice Cream, all on Main Street, did not attend last week’s work session. When reached on Friday, Ms. Richman described the complaints filed against her business as “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Why would I do that to my customers?” Ms. Richman said, explaining that she would not want to amplify music to be so loud that it turned off customers. “And the stores around me are closed ... most close at 7 p.m.”

Ms. Richman also noted that the village should be more vigilant in its policing of excessive noise.

Former Southampton Town code officer Steve Frano, a guest of the board at the work session, recommended that trustees ban amplified music altogether. He later conceded that singers should be permitted to utilize small amplification systems that run on no more than 80 watts.

Mr. Frano explained that it is difficult for officers to get accurate decibel level readings that are needed for the village to enforce its noise ordinance.

There are currently two village ordinances that seek to control music and noise: the music permit process passed by the trustees in 2006, and a noise ordinance that has not been updated since the 1960s. Both will be analyzed and possibly revised in the coming months, according to village officials.

The granting of a music permit now allows Main Street businesses to offer amplified music up until 11 p.m. on whatever days they apply, though most requests are for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Between 6 and 9 p.m., the music must not exceed 65 decibels at the center of Main Street, which is defined by the double yellow line, according to Village Building Inspector Paul Houlihan. Between 9 and 11 p.m., the music must be no louder than 55 decibels.

After 11 p.m., the village’s noise ordinance comes into play. Village Attorney Bo Bishop explained that the noise ordinance, which was last modified in 1962, states that music—or any type of noise, such as a barking dog or a loud party—that is audible more than 50 feet away from its origin is prohibited.

A couple who lives on Moniebogue Lane, near Starr Boggs, voiced complaints during the work session about loud noise coming from the restaurant. They refused to identify themselves by name and urged the police to be more vigilant when enforcing noise complaints coming from the restaurant and businesses on Main Street.

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The outdoor music is such a nice attraction and it draws many people to this village in the summer months. To ban it altogether would be a huge disservice to the residents and visitors who enjoy such arts and entertainment. Why get rid of something that is a good thing?
By beachbum (3), WESTHAMPTON BEA on Nov 23, 08 12:57 AM
I have already sent my letter to the Mayor opposing the ban. I will most certainly attend any town meetings to express my desire to keep the bans. I know Erin Finley and she just has a grudge against Shock ice cream's owner and thats why she is speaking out against the music. Its NOT business, its personal.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 23, 08 7:41 AM
TYPO I meant to typw "I will express my desire to keep the BANDS."
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 23, 08 7:42 AM
Are they (the village board) really that insane that they would ban music from the village? How much more anti-business can they become? Stores and merchants are already suffering from the economic slowdown and now they want to drive more people away from Main Street? Don't they realize that the tourism industry is the major economic engine of the entire East End and the ultimate risk is to turn downtown Westhampton Beach into a ghost town? There are always going to be a few nutters who turn up ...more
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Nov 23, 08 12:51 PM
well then lets make sure we all show up at the next town board meeting and express how we feel. If the only people that show up are the opposers to street music then we are sure to lose.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 23, 08 5:44 PM
This is so pathetic, I'm so glad I only spend my summers in WHB. Even then, there's nothing for the 30 and up crowd to do. It's bad enough WHB lacks the young professional scene our neighbors to the east thrive on every summer, now people want to kill the music on Main Street? No wonder all the yuppies go east of the canal. Why don't we just make Main Street a haven for everyone under 16 and over 50 (not that it pretty much already isn't). The solution to this is very easy; boycott Sydney’s “Taylor” ...more
By WHBinManhattan (47), Manhattan/Westhampton on Nov 23, 08 11:58 PM
Ban the music, ban the silly string, ban everything but prayer and worship.
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Nov 24, 08 7:15 AM
The cops were called to my store a couple of times this summer, because of the music , instead of coming to my store and asking me if I could lower the music my neighbor called the cops, the cops came and found the music to be quite appropriate , The 2 nights were July 4th, and Labor Day the 2 busiest nights of the Summer I think the police had better things to do than come to my store. I have copies of all the police reports that have been filed on me and they all have the same name on them Take ...more
By shock (70), whb on Nov 24, 08 8:56 AM
I DID send my letter to the Mayor. And I WILL show up at the next Town Meeting (how do we find out when the meeting are held?? Please someone tell me.) Yes I too say lets boycott Taylor Made Cuisine. If I ever hear anyone say "what happend to the music on Main St?" I will be sure to point out (literally)that part of the blame goes you know where. I think they should hold the meeting in summer and invite the tourists. Im sure the tourists would like to have a say in this and their voices would hold ...more
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 24, 08 9:26 AM
Thank you for all of the comments! I just want to make sure that it's clear that the Westhampton Beach Village Board is not considering banning all music, only the majority of amplified music, as stated in the article. Instruments such as acoustic guitars, banjos, violins, and cellos would still be permitted. A small amplification system for singers might also be allowed under the revised code. Also, the schedule for all village meetings can be found at: http://www.westhamptonbeach.org/

Thanks,
Jessica ...more
By Jessica Lynn DiNapoli (2), East Quogue on Nov 24, 08 10:47 AM
You can hear Ms. Finley berate her employees from the street when you walk by her store. People do not complain to the Village Board about this, they just don't shop in her store. Her behavior in front of visitors to our area is embarassing to all of the merchants. She is the last person the The WHB Village Board should be listening to about what is proper public behavior.
By kathi (2), east quogue on Nov 24, 08 10:20 PM
I went to the WHB town website but am having trouble understanding the schedule. (there's lots of schedules of lots of different things.) When are the PUBLIC meetings?
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 25, 08 8:07 AM
You must download a pdf file of the meeting schedule from the front page of the Village web site. The regular Village Board meetings are always the first Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM. The next regular meeting is Thursday, December 4th at the Westhampton Beach Village Hall.
By foodie (74), Remsenburg on Nov 25, 08 5:32 PM
Hey thanks.....
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 25, 08 5:49 PM
I'll tell you what, lets ban cell phones in public places first! What about loud children? Banned. Thunder, banned. Broken Mufflers, banned. This knee jerk attitude about live music is so frustrating. No Music anywhere! And the world will be a better place. C'mon village board. Give some people some jurisdiction and they'll make an ordinance about anything they can get their hands on. This is all about perspective. From my point of view the musics not loud enough! How about that village board. Going ...more
By Soundview (89), Hampton bays on Nov 26, 08 3:17 PM
Amen!
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 26, 08 7:54 PM
I hear next WHB is going to ban people, followed shortly by Water Mill & Bridgehampton
By typical (63), southampton on Nov 30, 08 7:12 AM