Letter to the Editor: Proposed Noise Ordinance Will Hurt Waterfront Restaurants

by | Oct 17, 2019

On Thursday, Oct. 24, the East Greenwich Town Council will be continuing to decide the fate & longevity of our thriving waterfront. As lifelong residents of East Greenwich my wife Carole and I have been the owners of Finn’s Harborside for the past 7 years, originally known as the Harborside Lobstermania.

As a business owner of an East Greenwich waterfront destination and resident of the town I am extremely disappointed in the manner of which our elected town officials have handled the complaints of a few people residing in close proximity to the waterfront. The  town officials are being manipulated and are now attempting to dictate how we as restaurant owners should conduct businesses. Over the past several years our waterfront destinations have breathed life and energy into what has been typically a somewhat run down part of the town.

East Greenwich has a vibrant waterfront and as in many coastal areas in the North East there is a limited time (exactly 12 weeks) to generate revenue and enjoy outside leisure time on the water. This is now in jeopardy! Bands have been playing at all three waterfront locations for 30-plus years and have been the mainstay of attracting patrons to EG. All of these restaurants cater to families, young & old, and also many tourists and patrons from all parts of Rhode Island and beyond. Along with all of this comes traffic, noise (which should be pointed out to some of the complainers is completely different than music), trash, unruly behavior, loud voices etc. The restaurants have paid for trash to be picked up and for additional police details. It is a fact that where there is commerce and traffic there will be noise. The restaurants in question bring in revenue to the town and contribute to making East Greenwich a destination. As a taxpayer here in town it seems to me that losing this asset is not good fiscal management.  

As a restaurant owner we have spent thousands of dollars on sound minimizing equipment and security details at all events to ensure we have stayed within the current decibel level. We are routinely metered by the EGPD but also by over zealous neighbors who report their meter readings to the town! On occasion the decibel level has gone over the town ordinance with no music playing. Just the ambient decibel level of patrons at the outside bar will be over the proposed ordinance! It has been insinuated by some of the neighbors complaining that the current restaurants with the music are not generating enough income to consider keeping the current noise ordinance! We are faced with fines for violating the decibel level which contrary to the belief of the people complaining are NOT figured into our operating expenses.

Quite simply if the town sound ordinance is lowered we could possibly lose one third to one half of our business since the most popular bands will not be able to play. There needs to be a compromise to this issue that is acceptable to both residents & businesses alike. Lowering the decibel level to approximately the level of normal conversation is not a compromise. The Town Council special meeting will be held on Thursday October 24 (7 p.m.) at the Swift Community Center. 

Mark G. Finn
Owner, Finn’s Harborside

 

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26 Comments

  1. Charles

    Yet another instance of residents locating themselves admist a nuisance and wanting somebody else or another entity to pay for their poor judgment or decision…east greenwich needs to address needs of tax revenue businesses first especially where they preceded the residents…

    Reply
    • Bobby wilding

      They prob checked there purchase, lease, rental place out while a band ‘noise’ was happening!. That place was there long before them. I hope it stays that way.

      Reply
  2. John Anderson

    For what it’s worth, I stand with Mark Finn. Many, many people look forward to the lively summer music, food, festivities and charity events at the waterfront establishments. It is a huge draw for the town, and how many of the people that frequent the waterfront restaurants, during the day or night, also go up to Main Street and patronize all of the shops, other restaurants, boutiques, salons, and The fabulous Greenwich Odeum? I say many because I know many of them. I also have relatives from out of state and we always take them to either Chelo’s or the EG Restaurants and the comments we always hear are, “I can’t believe you guys live this close to such an awesome area!”
    If I lived in the direct area, I “might” worry more about exterior dumpsters, debris, abandoned trailers and the like. Sometimes I’m surprised these items don’t come up instead.

    Reply
    • Tom Chisholm

      I totally agree with Mark and John! I think you could just put air conditioners in during the summer to kill the sound rather than ruining the great summer atmosphere in EG…

      Reply
  3. Kim Edge

    In the summer, music from Finn’s can carry up the hill, to the back door of our home on Peirce Street, 1/2 mile away. Surely there is a middle ground on sound. People inside Finn’s can’t need the music that loud to enjoy themselves. Noise at that level makes living in the Harbor Neighborhood nearly impossible, we owe consideration to those tax payers as well.

    Reply
    • WENDY WHINER

      I would like to lodge a complaint for how loud the football games are at EGHS during the school year. The sound makes it all the way to my house over in Tanglewood. Listening to all those people having fun is awful to listen to. I think they should shut the football games down because I can hear it at my house, which is at least 1/2 mile away.

      See how ridiculous that sounds? Where does it end?

      I do get that people right next door must have it pretty bad but when it’s been like this for 30 years, for 10 weeks out of the year, and they knew that going in when they bought, they have to realize what they are asking for might be hard to achieve. I mean let’s also move the train as well while we are at it, because it probably has a higher decibel than any of those bands and that noise is year round.

      Reply
    • Jessica

      Then move. Nobody asked you to live there.
      I’ll bet the establishments were there long before you were. Surely you can deal with 12 weeks out of 52?

      Reply
      • Louis DeMascole

        I cannot believe that people cannot handle this for 12 weeks. It’s music….not construction sound.
        What about the tax revenue they would loose!

        Reply
    • Darlene

      You must realize that sound travels with the wind and can sometimes seem louder than it is. East Greenwich is also a waterfront destination for boaters from all over Southern New England. With shopping, restaurants and nightlife, many boats from nearby Massachusetts, Connecticut and our own Narragansett Bay come to spend their hard earned cash in YOUR town!! You should be thankful! Should all this entertainment stop, your taxes may jump higher than they already are.

      Reply
      • Richard

        This seems to be exactly like what the Airport Corp faced with neighbors complaining about the noise from planes. My question has always been to those people, ” did you not know the airport was there? ” Didn’t the people who moved into EG know the water fronts everywhere in the US come alive in the warmer weather. What did they expect? Its 10 weeks out of a year, go down to the water front, you might enjoy it!

        Reply
    • Dennis

      Sell your house and go live in the woods. Or perhaps get some sort of life. I love the waterfront venues and and frequent them often

      Reply
    • Mike Gormley

      We live at the end of Pierce St at 1 Liberty Street and I never heard one band all summer from here. Our high school daughter works at Finns Harborside and it has been nothing but a great experience. Live music does nothing to change that or make it any less family friendly, more so as it becomes a gathering place. Please don’t ruin EGs waterfront.

      Reply
  4. Dawn

    We love the live music. The louder the better. They are correct to say that it’s not the music that’s loud, it’s the traffic and patrons in the streets. If this does go thru and it’s still loud from just normal traffic and people are they going to shut down the businesses to keep people away? That’s just insane. I say if this goes thru “What’s Next?! There’s always someone who wants to ruin it for everyone, isn’t there?

    Reply
  5. Russ Calasant

    12 out of 52 weeks. That sounds like a compromise right there. What’s next? Boats? Motorcycles? Cars? I came to the waterfront and pay taxes (and vote) in EG because of the 12 weeks and waterfront entertainment. And I will leave if it does. I understand compromise but it sounds to me that others do not. I have a boat that I am on all 12 summer weeks that is within 150ft of the live music. When I go to bed, doors closed and AC on I can still hear the music, it’s not loud. I have no problem with it and can sleep. It’s only a few hours, on weekends and for 12 weeks. I also go and enjoy the entertainment and have the luxury of enjoying it on deck. When I choose not to I don’t mind and I understand that others are enjoying it. That’s compromise, understanding and tolerance. All things that some people seem to be lacking these days.

    Reply
  6. Jesse

    The motorcycles and “super cars” revving their engines at 1AM on Main Street are a MUCH bigger nuisance than the music on the waterfront. However, I chose to live on Main Street and I recognized everything that came along with that decision. By contrast, I’m not going to ask the town council to ban motorcycles and loud cars at Main Street establishments. To those complaining, grow up. There are other people in the world, get used to it.

    Reply
  7. kathryn carter

    I live two blocks from Finn’s. Can I hear the music? Yes Is it ever bothersome – NO. Hard to imagine it carries in a bothersome way up to Pierce Street.

    On Wednesday nights I can hear the drum and fife practicing up at the Kentish Guard House. It ‘drifts’ down to the waterfront. Is it bothersome – NO. Sure, it’s not as loud as the bands from the restaurants.

    It seems all of the restaurants have done their best to mitigate the noise. It is understandable it could be annoying to those who live immediately next to any of the restaurants with live music.

    The waterfront was a ‘do not go there’ place when I was a kid in EG. It is now a ‘go to’ place. We need these restaurants – if nothing else, we need their tax money to help us (the residents) with the taxes. The town does not seem able to grow – that means we pay more in taxes for increased services (which we all need and they do cost).

    A decibel level too low will not work. From where I sit inside or outside my house – right near by – it’s not a problem.

    Reply
    • Kevin Muoio

      Kathryn,

      I think your comment is very valid – especially around the waterfront having once been a “do not go there” place. In my 15 years in East Greenwich, I’ve been fortunate to only know the waterfront as a “go-to” place. My opinion is that a healthy vibrant waterfront is a tremendous attribute of our town and adds to its diversity and desirability. With a strong economy for the last decade, its hard to remember shuttered businesses throughout EG (Main Street + Waterfront). I’m concerned with what would happen to East Greenwich if we were to lose our restaurant and bar business.

      The opportunity for retail stores is greatly diminished with Amazon and internet businesses commanding the bulk of retail sales. If bars and restaurants leave EG (waterfront & Main Street), what will come of these buildings? More condos, but less reason for people to move into them, without the local activity in East Greenwich. I think we find ourselves with an identity crisis – what is East Greenwich? I have always perceived it as a place with lots to do on Main Street all year long and a heavy tourist destination on the waterfront in the summer. I understand that there are times during that 12 week summer stretch that may be trying for some waterfront residents, but the waterfront is a major resource for all town residents.

      Reply
    • Lily

      Make sure you attend the town meeting! These comments won’t help protect the businesses unfortunately. We don’t want to lose revenue. Customers will take their money to Providence or Newport instead.

      Reply
  8. Phil

    The music isn’t bad in the first place. If folks don’t want to hear it turn up the TV.

    Reply
    • Barnie

      This issue has been around for as long as I can remember, it appears after the election is surfaced with more push from the newly elected town council. Maybe Marky Mark and the fun bunch made some promises on the campaign trail that are now coming to fruition…..

      Reply
  9. Henrique Pedro

    Twenty years ago when i was looking for a home I had a choice of downtown EG or Wickford. I chose EG because of its vibrant downtown and waterfront area. Although as times I complain about the traffic, noise and parking, I believe its a great town to live in. The waterfront business are doing there best to mitigate the noise problem. Let it be!!

    Reply
  10. Patricia V.

    I totally agree with Mr. Finn and all of the positive comments. It’s 12 weeks a year for pete’s sake! Lots of people are on your side. Good luck Mr. Finn.

    Reply
  11. Dee Wehr

    I can remember when E.G. looked like a ghost town! Is this what you want to happen ? I love the fact that the town is now a vibrant place to visit and enjoy. If it’s too much for some people , then move !

    Reply
  12. Patricia V.

    I agree with all of the positive posts regarding this issue. The music is only on for 12 weeks– Good luck Mr. Finn

    Reply
  13. Paul Dalzell

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Thousands and thousands of people come to e.g. down to the waterfront to eat, drink, listen to music, enjoy friends, and spend money.
    I’m with the Finn’s.
    I would like to have their names posted so everyone can see who and how many people actually are complaining. I’d be willing to bet that they are a fraction compared to the people that enjoy it or don’t care.
    I’m on a boat in the middle of all three restaurants and when all have live music it has never been to loud ever.
    I hope they don’t make us take down our TRUMP flags next.

    Reply
  14. Mark Ram

    I would love to know what the decibel reading is at the complainants resident. Some people might have legitimate reasons to complain but there are so many people that are just miserable and just want to complain. Some of the complainants also have lawsuits against some of the nightclubs and the town….so what do you think their lawyers tells them to do… Of course complain it’ll help your lawsuit! Instead of lowering the decibel reading at the nightclubs they should set a decibel level at the complainants living facility. I’d bet it wouldn’t go over 50db’s on there property.

    Reply

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