Westhampton Beach trustees are now seeking suggestions from community members on ways that the village can improve its current system for awarding outdoor music permits, following the filing of multiple noise complaints last year.
Board members also are looking for feedback as soon as possible, in order for them to make any required code amendments prior to the start of the summer.
At the Village Board’s work session late last month, Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said he wants suggestions from the community concerning the playing of outdoor music on Main Street. Last year the trustees discussed the possibility of banning most amplified music along the village’s main business corridors, only permitting singers with small amplification systems, after the filing of several noise complaints.
Former Southampton Town code officer Steve Frano suggested to the board in late November that it limit the amount of amplification that is allowed as a way to curb noise. He explained that an 80-watt amplification system would provide enough power to project the voices of singers.
The village issues only a small number of music permits and the applicants, most of whom are on Main Street, must apply for a renewal each year.
“We have a few more months,” Village Board member Hank Tucker said at last month’s work session. “We need input and suggestions from people.”
Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis said a public hearing on this specific issue will not be held for several weeks, until board members decide on how they will change the permit application process. Rather, board members are asking local residents and business owners to offer their opinions during the next few meetings, such as the one scheduled for this Thursday, February 5, at 7 p.m.
Currently, businesses have to apply to the village for a music permit, a document that allows them to offer amplified music up until 11 p.m. on certain days. Most of the requests, which are reviewed by the Village Board, are for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in the summer months.
Also, the music being played at the businesses cannot exceed 65 decibels at the center of Main Street, which is defined by the double yellow line in the current village code, explained Westhampton Beach Building Inspector Paul Houlihan. Between 9 and 11 p.m., the music cannot exceed 55 decibels under the current regulations.
Village officials have stated that it is difficult to get an accurate decibel level reading of the performers and, therefore, they are now looking at other possible options.
“We’re looking to see what’s a reasonable type of amplifier, if there is such an animal out there,” Mr. Teller said on Friday. “Is it reasonable to have a 20-watt amplifier, or do you need a 35-watt amplifier?
“It might not change, we’re just inquiring,” Mr. Teller continued.
Deputy Mayor Jim Kametler recommended at the work session that the Westhampton Beach Police Department investigate the situation. Mr. Kametler asked Village Police Chief Ray Dean if his staff could make sure that the section of the village code pertaining to outdoor music is being enforced.
“Whatever you need,” Chief Dean said, adding that he would look into the situation.
On Monday, Chief Dean added that the trustees will ultimately decide what changes, if any, are made to the village code pertaining to amplified music. “We’re waiting for the village, they’re reviewing it,” he said. “If they change the ordinance, we’ll enforce it. We do whatever they chose to do.”