East Hampton Fine-tunes New Music Permit Law

T. E. McMorrow
The East Hampton Town Board wrestled with the proposed amended music permit law after hearing from musicians like Nancy Atlas, shown here at a town board meeting last March.

The East Hampton Town Board did some fine tuning of the new live music permit law at its November 19 meeting. Some ideas proposed by musicians during the board’s November 12 meeting in Montauk, as well as from the town’s business advisory board, were rejected, while others were on the town board’s hit parade.

One idea that had been suggested November 12 was a non-starter: eliminating permits entirely.

Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, who are known to occasionally tussle, seemed harmonious in their approach to the various proposed law’s nuances.

Three convictions in any one year on violations of any of three different sections of the town’s zoning code would lead to a denial of a live music permit the following year in the proposed law. The three areas of the code involved are fire prevention, noise, and the music permit law itself.

NancyLynn Thiele of the town attorney’s office suggested making it three convictions stemming from incidents that occurred on three separate dates, responding to concerns about the law expressed by board member David Lys. However, Van Scoyoc countered, “It should be based on three convictions, not dates.” Bragman said making denial based on three dates as opposed to the number of violations “invites more violations.”

An establishment denied a permit would be able to appeal, Bragman said, by presenting “mitigating circumstances” to the review board. For example, if an establishment had employed a bad management team, and then replaced it with a better one, that might suffice.

It had been suggested by the town’s business advisory committee that convictions for fire code violations not count. That did not sit well with the supervisor, who said that it would send a message to businesses that “overcrowding is okay. It is not okay.”

He reminded his fellow board members of the 2003 Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI, in which 100 people died, and 243 more were injured, many in the chaotic rush towards the entrance. Bragman again agreed. “I don’t think we should give them a pass on this. We have some obligation to recognize that public safety can be in danger,” the councilman said.

However, Van Scoyoc said, the fire code violations would have to be of an egregious and life-threatening nature. A single burned-out lightbulb in an exit sign would not reach that level, and should not be grounds for denial of a permit.

Kathee Burke-Gonzalez pointed out an incongruity in the town code regarding decibel levels. The town code allows live music up until 9 PM, but also calls for decibel levels to drop at 7 PM. She said that the town board needs to look at the code “globally” when it comes to live music. “We want live music in our community,” Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez said. “It is about finding the balance.”

[email protected]

More from Our Sister Sites