Law Governing Night Spots to Be Heard

    A hearing will be held tonight before the East Hampton Town Board on a proposed law requiring bars and restaurants that offer live music or other entertainment to obtain permits. The permits would be subject to certain provisions, such as a limit on the number of people allowed to gather for outdoor entertainment. They would be issued by the town clerk without review, carry no fee, and be valid for a calendar year. One-year renewals would be automatic.
    The legislation, promoted by Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, is an effort to address problems caused by a growing number of night spots where music and other events, particularly those held outdoors, draw crowds.
    If the law is adopted, outdoor entertainment will be allowed to take place between noon and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from noon till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. An outdoor occupancy limit will be determined for each venue by the town police chief, with maximum outdoor occupancy set at one person per seven square feet. The law will also require that an outdoor area used for entertainment be immediately adjacent to the business providing it, and that patrons may not encroach on public land, except for parking. 
     According to the draft, applicants for the permit would have to reveal whether any owners of the establishment had been convicted of any building, noise, or zoning-code violations within the previous 36 months. Should a town department head believe the permit “should be examined,” or if the town clerk determines that the business has been convicted of three code violations within three years, a hearing would be scheduled before the town board to determine if the permit should be modified, revoked, or suspended.
    The law allows the town board to require the installation of soundproofing or to set other conditions. It also allows the town to bring an injunction proceeding if necessary to enforce it.
    According to the draft, the law’s objectives are “to protect the established character of neighborhoods, especially residential neighborhoods, the social and economic well-being of residents, and the value of private and public property.” Another goal is “to avoid the creation of nuisances and other conditions impinging upon the quiet enjoyment and use of property and to prevent environmental pollution and degradation of whatever kind.”
    The two Democratic members of the board, Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, have not endorsed the permit approach, suggesting that in certain cases, such as for clubs in residential neighborhoods, the law would legalize an expanded use that should instead be subject to individual permit under the town’s mass gathering law.


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What was the outcome of this meeting? Brendan Byrne