By Elizabeth F. McNamara

At a meeting last week, the Town Council spent barely two minutes on the third reading of a revised noise ordinance as it affects outdoor music on the waterfront, approving the new ordinance 5-0. It was a quiet finale to a loud, eight-month-long debate that began with waterfront residents appealing to the Town Council for help in what they characterized as a summer-long onslaught of late-night noise. 

While the changes went into effect immediately, live outdoor music won’t start again until Memorial Day weekend. Under the new ordinance, bands playing at waterfront restaurants will be limited to a high of 60 dbA and 65 dbC, 10 decibels lower than had been in the ordinance, 15 less than was actually allowed (since the old ordinance allowed for leeway of 5 decibels, something the new ordinance does not). 

After a Town Council meeting in May, Blu and Finn’s owners and Blu’s lawyer talk with the town’s lawyer and its acoustics consultant to arrange a meeting.

DbC measures the more complained about thumping lower bass frequencies. The consultant hired by the town to assess the noise situation on the waterfront had said levels of 60 dBA and 65 dBC were the thresholds for resident comfort. 

Restaurant owners from Finn’s Harborside and Blu on the Water made some changes to improve sound proofing but they said lowering the decibel levels would hurt their businesses. 

In addition to Blu and Finn’s, Nautika and the EG Veteran Fireman’s Hall, will have to follow the new ordinance but it’s Blu and Finn’s that will be most impacted. The bands they hire and the position of their performance spaces have led to decibel readings above the new lower limits. 

Finn’s owner Mark Finn said after the second reading that he expected the ordinance would pass. 

“For us, it’s going to mean some bands won’t be able to play here because they are too loud,” he said. 

Working backward, stories and letters since March about the noise ordinance:

Noise Ordinance Moves Closer to Adoption
Letter to Editor: Proposed Noise Ordinance Changes Will Hurt Waterfront Businesses
Discussion on Waterfront Noise Gets Loud
Noise Ordinance Held Again; Restaurants Say Waterfront Will Be More Liveable
Council Approves Waterfront Noise Study, Hits Pause on Noise Ordinance
Noise Ordinance Still on Table but Compromise Sought
Letter to Editor: Blu Stokes Patron Resentments
Waterfront Restaurants Muster Fight on Noise Ordinance
Council Hears of Waterfront Noise, Drunkenness, Parking Woes; Considers Stricter Rules