Hampton music venues draw noise complaints: Will new ordinance help?

Under the amended ordinance, selectmen would have to approve any entertainment activities expected to draw 1,500 people or more. According to Town Manager Jamie Sullivan, presently, that would include such venues as Smuttynose Brewing Co. and the Casino Ballroom.

HAMPTON — A question on the March Town Meeting ballot to amend the town’s entertainment ordinance aims to give residents more control over entertainment related noise from businesses that have at times outraged local neighborhoods. Developed following an incident where a number of residents complained about a loud music concert at a business on the west side of town, Article 34, if passed, will amend the town’s current Entertainment Activities Ordinance, according to Town Manager Jamie Sullivan. It’s intended to control loud disruptions to citizens peace and quiet, remove the ambiguities that made enforcement problematic, and give the owners of entertainment venues a clear picture of what is and isn’t permitted.“Most businesses want to be good neighbors,” Sullivan said.The amendments were developed by a committee of resident and business stakeholders from both uptown and the beach. The committee included Sullivan, Selectwoman Amy Hansen, Police Chief Alex Reno, former police chief David Hobbs, as well as residents James Scully and Mallory LeDuc, and business owners Al Fleury and Andy Hart.Reno said his department deals regularly with noise complaints. If its loud patrons leaving a beach bar disturbing the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, Reno said, officers can and do deal with that fairly easily by making arrests for disturbing the peace.But when it comes to loud music at a venue with an entertainment license, Reno said, the current ordinance left a lot to be desired and he and Hobbs discussed that with the committee.“We’re law enforcers not law creators,” Reno said. “We explained that whatever they did, we hoped they made it enforceable. Steps were taken to remove the subjectivity in the ordinance and to create a basis for enforcement.”  

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