Noting that they already have applications from two Main Street business looking to offer customers live outdoor music this summer, Westhampton Beach Village Board members are discussing the possibility of limiting such activities this year.
“Last year both Shock and the Beach Bakery had their applications approved for outdoor music,” said Conrad Teller, the mayor of Westhampton Beach. “This year they’re asking for their permits to be renewed, but the board may want to limit the amplification because of noise complaints on Main Street.”
Westhampton Village Police Chief Ray Dean said his department received 17 noise complaints originating from the Main Street area between May 1 and September 30, 2007. Four of those complaints stemmed from performers at the Beach Bakery and one was filed against Shock, according to village officials.
Mayor Teller stated during last Wednesday night’s work session that the board still intends to approve some outdoor music permit requests this year, though there might be certain limitations and changes to the renewed permits. Noting that no provision existed before 2006 permitting outdoor performers, village officials began ticketing businesses that offered live music two summers ago, arguing that the crowds the performers attracted created a safety hazard for pedestrians.
This week the mayor characterized the noise issue as a problem of “dueling banjos,” a situation where live musicians are performing in close proximity to one another.
The Beach Bakery usually offers live music in the driveway located to the west of the shop, while Shock typically has performers stationed in the alleyway next to the store and on the east side of the building. Both stores are located on Main Street. Upon occasion, musicians are also stationed near Sexton Commons and in front of the Westhampton Beach Post Office.
“I plan on having music the same as last year, which is live music Friday and Saturday nights, with amplification from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m.,” said Simon Jorna, the owner of Beach Bakery. “Of course, this doesn’t keep people from going to sleep and if it does, who cares? They live on Main Street. They should know it’s loud.”
Mr. Jorna went on to say that live, amplified music is part of the ambiance and fun of Main Street. However, he did acknowledge that last summer there were too many musicians on Main Street.
“You don’t get a couple of elementary school kids to play on Main Street,” Mr. Jorna said. “You want some good sounding bands, not low-quality bands.”
Elyse Richman, the owner of Shock, Baby Shock and Shock Ice Cream in the village said she usually offers karaoke in the alley next to her store. She also noted that she intends to run for the Village Board in June; in 2005, Ms. Richman just missed winning election to the board during her first campaign.
“Music is nice, but when people can’t sleep or it’s played too loud and the police have to be called and tell them to quiet down, it’s not correct,” said Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis.
Two years ago, the Village Board passed a law that permits the playing of live music on Main Street, as long as shop owners apply for permits each year and follow a strict set of rules. For example, bands can have a maximum of five members and they can perform only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 7 to 11 p.m., and two Thursdays in the summer after 8 p.m. In addition, shop owners cannot block any parking spaces in front of their stores for the performers, and they must agree to shut down the music if a police officer determines that a sidewalk is too congested for pedestrians.
Mr. Jorna, who has secured permits each of the last two years, suggested staggering the days and times when people can have amplified music—for example, allowing one business to have amplified music every third Thursday, and another business to have live amplified music every second Friday, and so on—as a way to resolve the noise issue.
Village Board member Joan Levan said that before she makes any decision on limiting the amplification of music on Main Street, she’d like to discuss the hours during which music is allowed, and how far the tunes can be heard from Main Street.
“I don’t think a limit on amplification will take away from the ambiance on Main Street,” Ms. Levan said. “You don’t need to stand at the post office to hear music at Beach Bakery.”