A pattern of noise complaints from people living next to establishments with outdoor seating arrangements has been emerging from several community meetings over the past few months.
Members of the Public Safety Committee at Community Board 1 attempted to address these concerns head-on with several local businesses seeking new liquor licenses and waiver extensions from the committee at last week’s meeting.
While many of the license renewals or waiver extensions were granted, much of the debate focused on establishments that had table seating either on the sidewalk or in enclosed courtyards outdoors.
The committee was supposed to review the license renewal request of the owners of the bar Charleston (174 Bedford Avenue), but the owners did not show up. Neighbors complained to the 94th Precinct and Captain Dennis Fulton was scheduled to make a presentation but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Neither the owners of the Charleston nor officials from the 94th Precinct were available for comment.
After the Public Safety Committee refused to grant a license for table seating on the sidewalk, which the bar had installed during this summer’s Williamsburg Walks, the Department of Consumer Affairs overruled the community board’s recommendation and granted the license.
“We agree they are very irresponsible neighbors,” Teresa Toro, a Public Safety Committee member, said.
Restaurant and club owners in North Brooklyn who did attend the meeting seeking approval for their requests agreed that noise from their establishments must be kept to a minimum and maintaining hours of operation that reflected the concerns of immediate neighbors were reasonable requests.
The Public Safety Committee suggested that restaurants and bars keep their businesses open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 11 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, as well as keep a sign posted encouraging customers to keep their noise levels down and be sensitive to nearby neighbors.
“The truth is, in the summer the outdoor areas are very popular,” Toro said. “That’s where everyone wants to be. It’s very hard to balance that concern.”
The request was no problem for Rob Sacher, the former owner of Luna Lounge who hopes to open the Satellite Lounge (143 Havemeyer) in January.
Sachar’s new establishment will have tables that have a capacity of ten people for customers who want to bring their orders outside while they smoke. The issue of smoking outdoors was also a matter of debate, though community board members were more concerned with excessive noise that may be generated by outdoor table service.
“If we have more noise complaints, we’ll just have to do away with the outside or close it,” Sachar said. “Personally I’m against smoking, but we should do something for the smokers. Otherwise they’d be farther onto the street and even noisier.”
Toro and the other committee members were assuaged by Sachar’s concessions and encouraged by the small size of the proposed outdoor space.
“I’m very glad you’ve given so much thought to this, but I worry how you’ll be able to control that there will be only smokers here,” said Toro. “If you can have some indication that it will only be a smoking section or have someone from the club policing it, trying to steer people inside, that would be better.”