Bar music debated

BAR HARBOR — The Town Council in the last few weeks has renewed the permits for several bars and restaurants to have live music or other special entertainment. But in a few cases, neighbors and councilors have raised concerns about excessive noise.

“I’d encourage people who are bothered by the noise to continue to call,”

Councilor Anne Greenlee said at the council’s Town Hill meeting last week, when two permits were up for renewal. “Some of them are getting worn down with calling and not getting satisfaction.”

One application was from the Dog and Pony Tavern, which does not host live music, owner Dustin Gallant said. “We have a stereo receiver that goes to speakers inside the building,” he explained, so their permit is a Class 4, for “any other type of entertainment.” Co-owner Amanda Gallant said they have been actively involved with neighbors and police to discuss noise levels.

The Dog and Pony is in a commercially zoned area where some noise is acceptable, Councilor David Bowden said. Councilors unanimously approved that renewal and one for The Lompoc.

“We try to make a good balance between the two uses of the town,” Lt. David Kerns said. “If you want a quieter town, that’s something the town needs to decide and vote on” in an ordinance change.

The Bar Harbor Lobster Company’s application for a permit was the only one not to be unanimously approved by councilors. Councilors Greenlee and Gary Friedmann voted against approving the permit at the April 5 council meeting.

Garrett Fitzgerald, owner of the new restaurant that has not yet opened, said he doesn’t plan to host live music but wanted to get a permit just in case. He agreed to a lower-level permit, for two musicians, amplification and dancing, because his lower Main Street restaurant is in a more residential area than some other businesses.

John Benson, owner of Tea 278, said a quiet atmosphere is important to his business, which is across the street from the new lobster restaurant.

Under the town’s noise ordinance, businesses must apply to renew their special amusement permits every year. The permits are required for live music or other entertainment.

If a neighbor complains to police about unreasonable noise, an officer will respond and measure the sound level from near (5-10 feet from) the property line of the business, Kerns said at last week’s meeting. Police take two readings to see if noise exceeds the limit in the ordinance, 71 decibels.

Earlier this spring, the council approved a permit renewal for Little Anthony’s on Cottage Street following extensive debate. The restaurant had been the subject of many complaints, but was only technically substantiated under the ordinance.

Greenlee said noise levels may go down after a complaint is made but before the readings are taken.

If a business is found to be in violation (complaint is substantiated by police) three times, the council must revoke the permit. They also may refuse future applications for permits.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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