BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Representatives from the Green Knoll Grill came before the township council to request an allowance for light music to be played during lunches and for corporate or other parties during the day.
The Green Knoll Grill has been before the council several times over the past few years regarding noise complaints and requests for outdoor music to be played, all in connection with their liquor license, and conditions placed on it.
The Grill’s liquor license is up for renewal in July.
Restrictions for outdoor music were placed on the restaurant in 2013, and, in the years since, the Grill has employed a number of different measures to keep the sound contained and prevent it from being heard by nearby residents, including those living in the Crossroads on Route 202/206.
The restrictions were for no live music on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday; no live music after 11 p.m. Wednesday; no live music after 11 p.m. Thursday; no live music after 1 a.m. Saturday morning; and no live music after 1 a.m. Sunday morning.
The restrictions also include having the patio open only from noon to 6 p.m. from October to April, as well as the restaurant not being allowed to play music until 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Green Knoll Grill attorney Pasquale Marago has been before the council numerous times in the past to address noise complaints and other concerns from area residents.
At the June 1 council meeting, Marago addressed a report submitted by Bridgewater Township Police Chief Al Nicaretta that detailed 15 calls of police service from May 1, 2016 through May 12, 2017.
First, Marago requested that the council remember that some of the incidents took place in the three months prior to the last renewal of the liquor license, and should therefore have no bearing on this year’s renewal.
And a DWI charge from the area, Marago said, was noted as being at the Green Knoll Grill address, but was actually on the highway and not at the restaurant.
Marago said the restaurant also takes exception to some of the noise complaints.
“The Green Knoll is allowed to have outdoor music six months a year three nights a week for about six hours,” he said. “There are two complaints over this little over-a-year period. None of the complaints were brought to the Green Knoll Grill, and I am not sure whether the loud music meets any kind of legal definition of being a nuisance.”
Marago said the health officers in town have instruments to measure noise, and there is a legal standard set as to what is a nuisance.
“Everything else is subjective and not actionable,” he said. “The Green Knoll Grill, as long as it is operating within the law, shouldn’t be penalized for anything.”
Marago said the Grill spent thousands of dollars to conduct a very sophisticated noise test, and instrumentation was set up halfway between the Crossroads and the Grill.
“It was much closer to the music than where the residents live,” he said. “It demonstrated that live outdoor music could not be heard where the instrumentation was set up, so it couldn’t possibly be heard at a nuisance level at Crossroads. The only thing picked up with regularity was traffic on the highway.”
Marago said he is concerned with all of this being released after the Grill requested to come before the council to discuss allowing outdoor music during the day.
Basically, Marago said, they are asking to be able to play light music during lunches during the day for a corporate lunch crowd, baby shower or other similar event.
“It would be for anything booked on the patio starting at noon, even if the council sees fit to see some kind of respite period,” he said. “Certainly an argument can be made that music at night might be easier to hear at the Crossroads because the traffic at 9 p.m. is less than during the day.”
“At noon time, we will have multiple times more traffic on those roads than we do in the evening, and the music will be that much more difficult to hear off premises,” he added.
Councilman Matthew Moench said he would like to get additional information about the noise complaints to help make a decision regarding outdoor music in the afternoons.
“The request is not to eliminate existing conditions, but to allow light music for the lunch crowd or for some events on the weekends,” council president Allen Kurdyla said.
The request is expected to be considered at the June 19 township council meeting, when the Green Knoll Grill’s liquor license is up for renewal.