Tavern, abutters work out compromise

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Noise and people staying up late are some of those things that go hand-in-hand with the summertime.

It depends what side of the fence a person is on whether that late-night noise is tons of fun or a minor nuisance.

A recent development illustrates that people were able to understand both sides of the fence. In the picture are: a bar and restaurant owner trying to make a living, and the people who live and sleep in the residential area nearby.

The establishment, Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern — formerly known as Bray’s Brewpub and Eatery — will be offering outdoor entertainment from 8 to 11 p.m. every Saturday from June 23 through Sept. 5.

On Tuesday, the Naples Planning Board granted this one-year trial basis permit to Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern.

(This string of approximately 13 Saturdays does not include the weekend of the Maine Blues Festival. That is because the establishments offering music as part of the Bluesfest are granted their outdoors entertainment permits under the umbrella of the Bluesfest.)

Ultimately, during a 10-minute recess suggested by Planning Board Chairman Larry Anton, Gary’s owner and a small group of abutters huddled in chairs and came up with a compromise which was approved by the board.

At the beginning of the meeting, Gary Skellett, the owner of Gary’s tavern, came before the planning board with his request to expand the number of nights usually allowed by a Special Amusement Permit (SAP). A SAP is typically granted by the board of selectmen; that permit allows a business to offer outdoors entertainment past 9 p.m. four times during the year. In the case of Gary’s that is an enclosed “beer garden.”

Skellett presented his case to the planning board.

“I stay open all year-round. I don’t make any money in the winter. My opportunity to make money is in the summer. People are here to vacation, to have a good time,” Skellett said. “This town is a summer community. I have 100 days for the opportunity to make that money.”

He said if he was denied the opportunity to offer outdoor music every Saturday, he might not be able to make the money he could during the summer.

Skellett already had a built-in compromise based on the state law, which he cited allows outdoors music to be playing until 11:30 p.m.

His suggestion was that the outdoors entertainment would go from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., allowing the band to pack up and the people who were there for the music to clear out by 11:30 p.m. or midnight. The alternative — how things have been done in the past — is indoors music that continues until 12:30 or 1 a.m., he said, explaining that as doors are opened and closed the sounds can be heard outside.

“I am here trying to make money, pay my taxes and follow state law,” Skellett said.

Some of the abutters spoke after the history of the previous business had been discussed.

Basically, about 10 to 15 years ago, homeowners in the residential area behind the business worked out an agreement to keep the noise down. At that time, there was some contention, as pointed out by planning board members.

“In the past, there was great opposition,” Rich Paraschak said.

“This being outdoors would have a very significant impact,” Jim Krainin said, referring to the ability of the lake surface to carry sound a greater distance.

On Tuesday, the parties were agreeable and willing to negotiate, saying the new outdoors entertainment schedule is doable on a one-year trial basis.

Abutter Sam Merriam talked about the past negotiations, made suggestions to reduce noises and presented his take on that evening’s outcome.

“I don’t think you have heard any complaining because it worked. It worked for me. Mike [Bray] was very good at complying,” Merriam said of the past agreement. “A lot of work went into that. I lived it. Mike lived it. We worked out a fair arrangement. We don’t complain about the indoor noise that we hear. Doors close. Windows close. We hear the beat. We hear the voices.”

Merriam also suggested to Skellett that he consider installing a higher wooden fence as well as shrubbery that might absorb the sound waves.

A next door neighbor said she did not mind the noise, had a good relationship with the new owner of the establishment, and was able to fall asleep to the music.

“We love Gary. We love the place. If it goes beyond 11 p.m., it’s fine. Right now, at 10 p.m., we are in bed. We fall asleep on the music, boom/boom/boom. We love it,” she said.

Her question to the planning board was who would enforce the agreement if the music played past 11 p.m. She was told that typically the neighbors call someone who serves on a town board or the town manager and they notify the code enforcement officer. Another option is to call regional dispatch.

Toward the end of the meeting, Merriam weighed in on the agreement, which was approved for a one-year trial basis.

“Understand that is exactly what this is. It is a trial,” Merriam said. “There is bit of acquiescence. We feel like we were rushed here. We want him to be successful.”

Planning Board member John Thompson agreed that this permit was being given a test run. He said that regardless of how it plays out, it will come before the board again next year.

“If it doesn’t work this time, you have something to stand on. We gave it a try. It didn’t work,” Thompson said.

Doug Bogdan spoke before voting in opposition of the motion.

“I did hear what Mr. Merriam said about being rushed. The application is usually back on the applicant, not the board to make a hasty decision or the neighbors,” Bogdan said.

“I won’t lose any sleep over it because I won’t hear it in Edes Falls — somebody else will,” he said.

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