Waterfront Restaurants Muster Fight on Noise Ordinance

by | Mar 10, 2019

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Waterfront residents had their say at last Monday’s Town Council meeting, when they voiced complaints about loud music and bad behavior. At the Town Council meeting March 11, it may be the restaurant owners and patrons who have their say, if a Blu on the Water Facebook post is any indication.

The Town Council is considering lowering the decibel levels allowed at waterfront establishments. The council will hear a first reading of the revised noise ordinance at the Monday meeting.

Blu’s post, published Saturday night, said lowering the noise ordinance “would essentially eliminate live outdoor entertainment.”

The post accuses the Town Council of failing to notify owners of Blu, Nautika and Finn’s Harborside – EG’s three waterfront establishments – about last week’s meeting. At that meeting, Town Council President Mark Schwager said he had told the EG Chamber of Commerce that the noise ordinance was on the agenda, but had not notified individual business owners. Council meeting agendas are public records; the agenda for that meeting was posted online and at Town Hall the previous Thursday.

By Sunday afternoon, the Facebook post had been shared more than 1,400 times and had more than 300 comments, many suggesting that residents who live near the waterfront should have known before they moved there that local restaurants featured live music. But several of the residents who complained last week said the situation had worsened in recent years. 

At the March 4 meeting, the Town Council talked about lowering the decibel level at 60 (from a high of 75). Warwick’s limit is 60 decibels.

Also on the March 11 agenda (find it here), The EG Housing Authority will present its annual report, Acting Chief Tom Mears will present an overview of the fire department and National Grid will talk about a major gas line planned for South County Trail.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall.


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Eric Christopher
Eric Christopher
March 10, 2019 7:42 pm

I wish I could be there for tomorrow’s council meeting. The more I learn about this the more it smells. The restaurants nor the local community were even told of the previous council meeting targeting the businesses. I am a property owner in the same location and have never had an issue. The businesses there are what makes EG a vibrant, amazing community. The bottom line– you don’t buy property in a commercial, waterfront restaurant area if you don’t want some added noise. The excitment on a few summer weekends and environment is expected and actually livens up the Town. The businesses there are excellent and a great opportunity for the city.

Devin Fineout
Devin Fineout
March 11, 2019 8:20 am

I completely agree!!!

Alan Clarke
Alan Clarke
March 11, 2019 8:47 am

So, Eric’s premise is that everyone who lives above Water Street bought their property after the noise became obvious. What about the people who have lived up there for generations… those who predate the two newer businesses and back when the Harborside was just a restaurant with a bar and no outside music. It’s great that you had advanced notice of the noise and chose to live there anyways. You do live there, right? You say you are a property owner but you do not say you live there.
Besides, I think most of the fracas is not over the occasional loose beer can or even the music. Stifle the booming bass after ten and ninety percent of the problem will go away. In some locations, the bass is all you hear… but you do hear it. Way over Sand Point you hear it. This really is much ado about nothing if a few reasonable people would just sit down and talk… and listen.

Marcela William
Marcela William
March 10, 2019 7:59 pm

I hope these businesses don’t let the ball drop, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! Let’s keep East Greenwich on the map, it benefits us all. If we begin chipping away at businesses it will bring us back to when E.G. was dumpy, and not showing its best face: just sayin’! First, they want to raise taxes on businesses and next lower the decibels. What follows? People come to our precious Hill & Harbour neighborhood for a reason. Do we want to be Wickford?!?! We get what we vote for, people. Don’t let them take it away!

Alan Clarke
Alan Clarke
March 11, 2019 8:51 am

East Greenwich has NEVER been dumpy!!!

Marcela William
Marcela William
March 11, 2019 11:19 am
Reply to  Alan Clarke

Well, I guess that’s a subjective opinion ;). I do like your idea, though, of having five districts and representatives that “walk the walk”, so to speak. It’s hard to imagine that reps living so far away from town (like you commented in the other post) will have the same kind of skin in the game since it’s a completely different East Greenwich where they live. And you’re right, also, that people need to be reasonable and listen as well as talk. This would hopefully lead to a happy place for many. It’s not fair that a few neighbors—who seem to hold the minority opinion, based on comments from other posters re the March 4 meeting—should be the ones who matter most. That is NOT saying that they or their opinions are not important; just that there are others, also, who have valid concerns and opinions that might not align with those of the former group.

March 11, 2019 11:11 am

Allow for acoustic guitar performers, spoken word and acapella groups. Ban the bass!

Devin Fineout
Devin Fineout
March 11, 2019 5:00 pm

I can hear the music from my house, and if anything changes about that, I will be the one complaining!!!! I didn’t move to this bustling, vibrant little town for peace and quiet. I had that on the other side of Route 2:( I wouldn’t dream of complaining about a little music, laughter and happiness on beautiful summer nights.
I’ve met so many people from Mass/CT that have told me they come here to walk Main Street, have dinner, and then go down by the water to enjoy a cocktail, friends and a little dancing and how lucky I am to live here.
The summer season is so short. I can easily close my windows. Are we really complaining about this? Come on!
***spoken word/acapella groups…oh, my gosh. Really?

March 12, 2019 12:04 am
Reply to  Devin Fineout

Same here! I didn’t move here for peace and quiet! Which, by the way, we get all winter long! The summer season is so short and the outdoor music lasts for three months! I am so sad when it’s over. A man at the town council meeting tonight actually said that his mother called 911 and they couldn’t hear her because of the music!! I live directly across from Finns Harborside and I assure you that I talk on the phone with every window in my house open and no one has ever said they couldn’t hear me! Can you say exaggerating!!!! If anything changes about our wonderful, vibrant waterfront, I will be the one complaining!

March 13, 2019 4:45 pm

As a boat owner I love to visit EG by water, it saves me the $300 round trip to Newport. Finns, BLU, and Nautika are all great and each brings something different depending on what you are looking for. We go to EG very regularly during the summer and spend a lot of money there. I feel bad for the business owners, but if the town doesn’t want us, then we will spend our cash else ware.

Look at Chelo’s waterfront, that place used to be great until they cracked down on the noise.

Bottom line, if you bought a house near a bar, or in a commercial zoned area for that matter then you cannot complain after the fact.

Claudia Saul
Claudia Saul
March 15, 2019 11:38 am

To the Community of East Greenwich, Waterfront residents, and all surrounding patrons — I have to say “Enough!” We need peace in our Community; setting a positive example for safety, mutual well-being, with a beautiful Destination Waterfront that we ALL Love!

It was disheartening to hear the discord at the recent March 11th meeting, which cued me to look this up online — seeing Blu’s statement (which is HIGHLY infusing,and contains many incorrect facts). It states that “outdoor music will be eliminated, and jobs, and business will be lost”. This could not be FURTHER from the Truth, but I understand their initial fear of losing their livelihood. Also, everyone should read the minutes of the initial Town Council meeting. We were surprised to see no business’s there, as they “were” informed through the Chamber, and this was stated IN the meeting.

If I may take the liberty to speak for our residential Waterfront Community, FIRST, let me say that “no one” wants this to happen! Let this be the first thing we AGREE on, and build from there? Everyone needs to take a breadth. Further fighting about this is unnecessary and gets “nothing achieved” (it only costs everyone time, money, peace, and potentially a fun and prosperous season). Coming to the table (as Mike Donegan described) in the March 11th is the best way to resolve any gaps in understanding, and create a good resolve.

To that end, EG Community and patrons should know the history, and current research (the ‘real facts’). I have lived on the EG Waterfront since 1993 (on a board association here – 17 yrs, and on the initial Ad Hoc town Committee). When we moved here, there was NO music (perhaps a guitar once and a while) but no permits for amplified music (hopefully, this answers the question of who came first). When the restaurant owners appealed to the town for outdoor music, an Ad Hoc Town Committee was formed to address this appeal, and any concerns. As a person who sat on this Committee, I can attest that; the Town, Restaurant Owners, and Waterfront Residents agreed to this under very “Specific Terms” (ordinances from the town). Terms included: music at 60 decibels (sometimes they jumped to 65), they would clean surrounding properties from nightly patrons, and they would hire police to maintain order for ensuing crowds. For fifteen years this was HIGHLY successful! Waterfront business’s THRIVED, and everyone was happy! Yes, crowds came, but all was safe, clean, and mutually beneficial . When some small issues arose regarding music (bass) our awesome Restaurant Owners (at the time) were HIGHLY cooperative and helpful! Milt Tanner (owner of 20 Water St.) put up an effective sound barrier (which has since been taken down?) When the bass at Harbourside was loud, I worked with Jerry Fain (who was a “complete gentlemen” – certainly none litigious! – instead, offering suggestions for how we could work in communion to get this figured out. I was President of Shore Mill at the time for many years – he allowed me to work with his DJ to get the bass to the perfect level, so it did not carry down Water St to our building – disturbing the sleep of our owners. We didn’t have to touch the treble settings – they were ‘fine”. Jerry was sensitive to the needs of owners who lived close, wanted to remain having outdoor music, and saw the merit of of working “together”. The settings we established and worked perfectly for many years – and No One complained!

The problem is simple. Somehow, in “recent years”, the restaurants increased the decibels to 75-80 (which was NOT the agreed terms for music here) And, as Caryn Corenthal stated in the first Town meeting on this subject, there is NO place in the U.S. that allows Waterfront music at the 75 (to 80) decibel level! I actually WISH restaurant owners attended that meeting. Caryn offered the Towns’ extensive research on this, yes, they revisited this issue “US wide”, not simply reacting to the owners plight. The (decibel level)”facts” allowed throughout surrounding communities, as well as the U.S. (even Calif I believe was mentioned), showed NONE allowed above 60. She also included relative times, as decibels levels were contiguous. There is a reason for this! It is town law to keep ‘damaging noise pollution’ at a reduced level. In addition, the Town attorney illustrated at the March 11th meeting how music (decibels) do not increase on a simplistic volume level. With each decibel noise levels increase exponentially. I know of no State, Town, Community, or neighborhood that would break such a law — and certainly, that should not be the example of what we are willing to set in our great town of East Greenwich.

Why would we want to be known for this? Damaging noise pollution beyond reasonable and unneighborly behavior, when “clearly”, it is proven – UNNEEDED to create a safe and Prosperous business environment! Milt Tanner and Jerry Fain were able to manage this quite successfully for well over 15 years! (legally). I am certain, with the continued business talent of Mark Finn and Jared Cello they are able to further progress of our Waterfront Destination with careful considerations for safety (crowds), noise pollution, and police & traffic patterns that has come with added growth here. This is a Good problem folks :! We just need to come back to the table to re-establish more positive “common ground” for Good growth measures. THAT is what we want E.G to be noted for right? ..a spirit of working together for the Common Good, setting an example for our children, our Town and State, putting us on the more intelligent progressive map. Big picture, Everyone Wins. PLease, lets all keep an open mind to work towards this, stop the marches and stupidity, and approach this ‘Intelligently’ for a Peaceful “Win-Win”. WE achieved this once (for a long time), and I am certain we can do this again! It starts with putting ourselves in each others shoes, and then doing what works the best for “Everyone” :0


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