Selectmen sound warning at noise hearing


Oak Bluffs selectmen convened a hearing on a noise complaint against Deon’s Restaurant, at their Tuesday meeting, but no one representing the restaurant appeared.

The hearing was to review the entertainment license granted by the board last year. Residents of the Martha’s Vineyard Campground Association, who live close behind the Circuit Avenue restaurant, offered a litany of complaints, some complaints well beyond the scope of the entertainment license hearing.

“It was like no consideration for us neighbors, and we’ve been there for 24 years,” said Brian Kirkpatrick, who initiated the complaint.

The process for noise complaints is first to call the police department. An officer will investigate and submit a written report to the chief of police and the town administrator. Those two officials decide whether the complaint rises to the level of a hearing before the selectmen. Selectmen issue the license and have the power to modify or revoke it.

Chief Blake said the investigating officer observed a DJ playing music in the restaurant with the door open, and said the establishment was in violation of not only its entertainment license, but its alcohol license as well.

Selectmen decided to hold the hearing open until their next meeting on July 13. In the meantime, they instructed town manager Michael Dutton and Chief Blake to meet with the management of Deon’s and make clear the limits of their entertainment license.

“Let them know in no uncertain terms,” said selectman Greg Coogan, “that if they violate that before July 13, they won’t have a leg to stand on.”

“If there’s a violation we’ll pull their entertainment license,” chairman Duncan Ross said.

In other action, Mr. Dutton told selectmen that the board of health is drafting new regulations allowing fines of up to $300 for people who illegally dump household garbage in town dumpsters and trash cans. Mr. Dutton estimates it costs the town $40,000 to $50,000 per year to dispose of illegally dumped trash.

The scope of the problem came to light following an experiment on Memorial Day weekend. The town purposefully did not distribute dumpsters near the harbor and other locations. The result was trash everywhere.

“It was piled up on the sidewalk, on the bathhouse — everywhere,” said harbormaster Todd Alexander.

“We know through the grapevine that people are using those dumpsters to put their household trash in,” Mr. Dutton said a few days after the dumpster experiment. “We didn’t know how big the problem was. We have a larger issue than we thought we had.”

Mr. Alexander estimated that 80 percent of the trash in dumpsters around the harbor comes from residents who dump illegally, and only 20 percent comes from boaters, who pay mooring and slip fees that cover the cost of disposing of their trash.

When the new regulations are ready, Mr. Alexander will begin regular surveillance and issue tickets. “It’s not really our intention to fine people. We don’t feel like doing that, but this just has to stop.”

Selectman Ron DiOrio praised police department clerk Jeannie Pierson for establishing a collection drive to benefit HopeLine, a phone recycling program run by Verizon Wireless to help victims of domestic violence.

“It was Jeannie with her own initiative,” Mr. DiOrio said. “When the leadership of our department and individual employees show initiative of this kind, we as a board of selectmen need to call attention to it, to let that employee know we appreciate the great work she’s doing.”