First Posted: 6/7/2013
Pittston watering holes like Cooper’s Cabana and Tomato Bar and Bistro run the risk of a Liquor Control Enforcement citation if amplified music drums up complaints.
But at a hearing on Monday, City Administrator Joe Moskovitz and Solicitor Sam Falcone made the case to for city police and code officials to take over handling such complaints.
An examiner from the state’s Liquor Control Board conducted the hearing and will make a recomendation to the full board. A decision is expected by July 16.
Under the state’s purview, noise violations — such as a band or DJ playing through electronic amplification at a bar — could result in an LCB citation, Falcone said. If the city takes the reins, local law enforcement would give warnings and citations to bars and restaurants for making too much noise.
Moskovitz said allowing discretion, bar owners in the central business district can hire live music with less fear of retribution from state enforcement. The move coincides with city planners’ hopes to improve Pittston’s “vibrant hospitality” industry, Moskovitz said.
City Council recently passed a comprehensive noise ordinance that covers neighborhoods and the business district.
Police Chief Robert Powers told told LCB hearing examiner Tom Miller said the department has issued citations to residents since the ordinance was enacted in February, but not to any bars or restaurants. But, he said, police have not received complaints about the businesses.
The hearing was held at Cooper’s because, according to the state law, it must take place within the borders of the area affected. That area proposed to be under city jurisdiction — Falcone referred to it as the central business district — is between 10 and 15 percent of the city’s two square miles and follows Main Street and Kennedy Boulevard. Bars and restaurants outside the area will be left to the LCB’s rule because they are too close to or part of mostly residential areas.
The power transfer is provisional and, if granted to the city, officials most likely will have to re-petition in a year when it expires. Miller said for first-time petitions such as Pittston’s, usually one year is granted to see how law enforcement handles the responsibility.
Cooper’s owner, Paul Cooper, testified because LCB officials cited his restaurant for loud music coming from the Cabana late one night in 2012.
Cooper said that he has heard from only one resident about the noise and cut entertainment down to two- and three-man music groups on the weekends and a DJ playing on Sundays. All music stops at 11 p.m., Cooper said.
The hearing was sparsely attended and no neighbors testified.
Christine Dumas, who lives within shouting distance of Cooper’s on Elizabeth Street, said noise from the Cabana has quieted in the last year, however it drifts up occasionally.
“You know they’re down there,” Dumas said from her front porch. “But I don’t think it offends anybody.”