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Merchants, Village Meet About Noise

Are Nyack’s bars and patrons too loud for too long into the early morning hours? Or are there a handful of residents who are using the police to stick it too the late night crowd and their favorite Nyack haunts? The Chamber of Commerce of Nyack brought business owners and village officials together to discuss the issue.

Police enforcement of the current noise ordinance relies on the officer’s judgement to determine if the noise is excessive at a distance of 50 feet away from the venue. If it is, a citation will be issued.

Merchants say that in the past, the police wouldn’t respond until similar complaints were heard from five or more residents about the same noise source. But now it seems like five calls from the same angry person are enough to get Orangeburg’s police involved.

Under current police procedures, a violation is forwarded to the NYS liquor authorities. According to the manager of the Black Bear Saloon, this can get very expensive, very quickly: the legal fees to defend against this action can cost more than $10,000 to defend a baseless charge. Nyack Mayor John Shields promised to meet with police to suggest a “three strikes and your are out” policy which gives bar owners a chance to clean up their act before involving the liquor board.

Village Trustee Denise Hogan recommended a decibel threshold being added to the current noise ordinance as a far way of determining when things audibly get out of hand.

Merchants say they are trying to be good neighbors by lowering the volume. The Black Bear is spending $15-20,00 on building a vestibule and sound boards to keep the noise inside and not out. However, the problem may not be the bars themselves but the hordes who congregate on the sidewalks outside to chat, smoke — and sometimes get rowdy.

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Nyack resident and musician David Reese says “music in Nyack is no louder than it is anywhere else.” Reese spoke to the Village Board last week about how police enforcement of Nyack’s noise ordinance on musical events at establishments like Hudson House and Casa Del Sol are forcing Nyack’s late night venues out of the music business.  Reese says Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty told him the police are sympathetic to the musicians plight and says they aren’t the problem. “Later on — that’s when there are problems,” he says.

Chamber of Commerce President Bob Gunderson says in the past enforcement may have been too lax but it is now too strict. “We need to find a happy medium,” he says.

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