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Complaint Leads Somers Board to Adjust Noise Law

SOMERS, N.Y. -- The Somers Town Board addressed the issue of noise emanating from the Roadhouse Tavern on Route 118 at a recent meeting.

One Somers resident had complained at an April board meeting that she and her neighbors were disturbed by late night music, starting around 10 or 10:30 p.m. and continuing until 1:30 or 2 a.m. She claimed to have been reporting the problem to Police Chief Michael Driscoll for over five months. She said although the police made numerous visits to the tavern, it seemed that the music was briefly lowered and then returned to its original intensity.

After hearing her complaint, the town board decided to amend the local entertainment law, thereby making it unlawful for noise or music to be so loud that it can be heard beyond the property line of a commercial establishment.

But several speakers appeared during the meeting in defense of the Road House Tavern and its owner, Alfred Jacobsen. Musician Frank Guagenti said it was unfair to condemn an establishment, “just because somebody complained.” He noted that the decision about “how much noise is too much noise” is a qualitative one and suggested that Somers adopt the practice of using a decibel meter. Judging the noise level arbitrarily, he said, could “mean the death of music in this area.”

Superintendent Mary Beth Murphy responded, “Our intention is to keep a residential neighborhood comfortable for the people who live there.”

Robert Jaffe, a Shenorock resident, pointed out that the tavern has been there for 150 years -- longer than any residence. He suggested that residents should “take a deep breath” and noted that as a child growing up in Flushing he learned people soon got used to the sound of jets flying overhead.

Jaffe also said, “In my opinion, we owe Alfred Jacobsen a debt of gratitude. He is a visionary. By renovating the building and creating a musical art venue, he has provided a lot of jobs for this community.”

The owner of Somers 202 , a nearby restaurant and music venue, also spoke on behalf of Jacobsen and the Roadhouse Tavern. He asked board members not to “make a rash decision. We all try to be good neighbors. If somebody is too loud at some point, why should we all suffer?” he asked, referring to all music venues in town.

Jay Petrillo, the owner of PJ’s Restaurant on Route 6, added that as a businessman, he too tries “to be a good neighbor. I’ve told the band, ‘You’re too loud’ and they tone it down. The question is, when is too loud, too loud?”

Petrillo supported using a decibel meter but the board responded that the purchase of such equipment and training of personnel would be an unnecessary expense.

“Amplified music sometimes interferes with neighborhood peace and tranquility,” Murphy said. “The entertainment law is like the liquor law. There is no problem unless it interferes with the public. The goal is to have businesses thrive and consider folks as well.”

A motion was made to adopt a local law amending the entertainment law. The motion was passed by the town board, 4-1.

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