The Italy town board is considering two laws which to some seem aimed at Italy's most famous business establishment, the Blue Eagle Tavern.
Story has been updated regarding the mass gathering law and to correct the cost of the audit.
In a somewhat heated discussion, the Italy town board is considering two new laws which to some seem aimed at Italy's most famous business establishment, the Blue Eagle Tavern.
Discussion of mass gatherings was the less contentious of the two issues at the town board's Jan. 8 regular meeting. Proposed are amendments to an existing law that requires a permit for gatherings that anticipate large numbers. Reasons cited for the law by Supervisor Margaret Dunn included sanitation requirements and parking and traffic concerns. After discussion, it was agreed that 500 attendees would constitute a mass gathering requiring a permit, notification of neighbors within 1,000 feet of the premises, and notification to the Yates County Sheriff's Office.
As the board discussed, resident Dan Miller representing the Blue Eagle attempted to interject, but was silenced by Dunn, saying that this was board discussion and he would be heard during "Privilege of the Floor" later in the meeting. Member Malcolm MacKenzie asked, "What are we trying to regulate?" wondering how many attend some church services, restaurants, and festivals. He also raised the question of an exemption for auctions that may unexpectedly draw very large crowds.
The noise law raised more hackles. According to town attorney Edward Brockman, rather than a general law regarding nuisance noise that requires a call to the sheriff's office which is proposed in the Ontario County town of Naples, Italy's proposed law specifically targets outdoor amplified music.
Councilman Fred Johnstone said he believes this law is aimed at The Blue Eagle and would damage their business significantly. He says, having been in the tavern business himself in the past, the Blue Eagle only has a few months in the good weather to make their profits for the year. The proposed cutoff time of 11 p.m. would cut into their prime time of operation that goes until 1 a.m. He proposes 1 a.m. as the cutoff time instead. Dunn says they can just take it inside after 11 p.m. Brockman says that acoustic music would still be permitted after 11.
Mackenzie wonders if Miller and Blue Eagle owner Cindy Tucker might offer a compromise, and compares the noise concerns to those brought up about wind turbines. Johnstone criticized that as a disingenuous argument.
Later, during Privilege of the Floor, Miller accused Dunn of having a problem with motorcycles, saying the engine noise disturbed her at church. He believes she is unfairly targeting The Blue Eagle, and made a vague threat if the board did so.
When asked how many formal complaints had been made against the tavern for noise, Dunn answered that none had been made, but that she has "been approached" by residents. She believes people fear retribution if they were to make a signed complaint.
The Town of Milo was similarly approached by residents last year with complaints of noise at lakeside rental properties, but that board judged that the problem of a few residents did not warrant a law limiting the rights of all property owners in the town, and decided that existing nuisance laws were sufficient. MacKenzie will research regulations in other towns and the board will consider them.
In other business:
• 2012 Audit: After long discussion, the board approved $8,550 for a procedural audit of 2012's books by Ray Wager. Dunn agreed, but says she believes this is a waste of the taxpayers' money, and will do nothing to answer the questions about her administration raised by former Italy Supervisor Brad Jones that caused a special meeting in November.
• Heavy Industry regulations: The board admits to considerable confusion between the hydrofacking moratorium and the proposed amendments to the zoning codes that would regulate it if the state approved the practice. The committee and the town attorney will attempt to clarify by the next meeting.