Cohasset Selectmen dismiss Red Lion Inn noise complaint
Cohasset Selectmen voted 4-0, with Selectman Steve Gaumer abstaining, to dismiss a noise complaint filed against the Red Lion Inn over an outside wedding held Saturday, Sept. 28th, 2013.
Selectmen determined that there was no noise from music, but there was noise from clapping.
Selectmen were unable to determine if clapping can legally be considered noise, and further questioned whether a wedding ceremony can be considered entertainment.
Further complicating the hearing was that Rowena and Michael Karp, who are abutters to the Red Lion Inn and the complainants, told Cohasset Police Detective Lt. Gregory Lennon that they had heard music when he investigated the complaint.
Under oath at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting Mrs. Karp said she was not at home that day. Mr. Karp said he only heard applause, and not music, providing a video of the same.
Also, there were three hearing notices; neither Atty. Charles Humphreys, representing the Red Lion Inn, nor Town Counsel Paul DeRensis received that notice which was posted by the former acting town manager. Also, selectmen, who are the licensing authority, did not vote to post the notice, as far as they can remember.
In spite of the notice technicality, Humphreys said he would agree to the modification.
Other things that were wrong:
Humphreys offered that some regulations were only suggested regulations and were not valid.
Early on in the proceedings Humphreys moved to dismiss the complaint. “Both witnesses say they never heard music; based on that alone, this should be dismissed.”
Michael Karp referred to the clapping as “Man made noise.”
Lennon said during his investigation he learned that acoustic guitar was played while the bride walked to the alter. He said it was a period of about 17 seconds.
When queried by DeRensis, Lennon said he had determined that noise was audible at the Karp’s property, based on their testimony and the video. During the interview they (the Karps) said they had heard music.”
“If you subtract what they said under oath…” DeRensis said, interrupted by Humphreys who complained: “You can’t impeach your own witness.”
DeRensis continued. “If you subtract the statement the Karps made to you during investigation, does that change your conclusion?”
Lennon said: “I would have researched further had they told me they had heard no music.”
“People told you they heard music; you heard tonight that neither party heard any music. You would not make the finding,” Humphreys said, correcting Lennon.
“I would not make the finding, correct,” Lennon said.
“Based upon physical evidence, was there audible noise at lot line? “Gaumer asked.
Lennon said yes.
“Is it your opinion that if were inside it would have been inaudible?” Gaumer asked.
Humphreys strongly objected to Lennon’s testimony. “He (Lennon) did not hear music, he was not there. Mrs. Karp testified she was not there. I strongly suggest you can’t un-break that egg.”
Humphreys said he had more to say, but not to this witness. “You have no evidence that music was audible at the property line. Based on that the government has failed to produce any evidence of a violation. Clapping is not entertainment. I never thought clapping was illegal in any form. This was a ceremony. “
Gaumer noted that the wedding was licensed to take place outside. “Your client understands that.”
Humphreys made a motion to dismiss
DeRensis noted that the issue of outside weddings was not the subject matter of this notice, and the board was bound to consider the notice advertised and only that notice. “You must decide whether there was noise from entertainment. If witnesses have failed to prove that to you, you should dismiss this.
At this point Selectman Quigley said she found it very disconcerting to have members of the board of selectmen (Gaumer) texting during the meeting. Koed asked him to knock it off.
Koed said he also was confused over the issue of clapping being a noise issuing from entertainment.
DeRensis said the board would have to interpret their own words. “You have the right to interpret them, and you decision will be given deference in any decision.”
Gaumer said it was clear there was no evidence of music being played. However, he said while 13 seconds of applause is not destructive, he would argue it is noise.
Gaumer moved the board find that music was not source of the noise complaint on Sept. 28th
DeRensis said the burden of proof is on the licensing agent to show there were acts sufficient to show a violation.
“This noise is not from entertainment. As (selectman) Quigley points out, there was applause at end of a garden setting, nothing more than appreciation of wedding itself, ” Humphreys said.
Quigley then questioned whether a wedding was entertainment.
Kennedy stated that the board does not want the Red Lion Inn to hold outside weddings because of the burden it places on neighbors.
Humphreys said he was concerned with the language of the notice of the hearing. “The notice said selectmen would consider whether the Red Lion Inn’s license should be modified, suspended or revoked. I don’t think that was the right notice. There were three notices. One was about holding an outdoor wedding, the second was about about individuals who had a fight resulting in a criminal complaint yet unresolved, and the third was a complaint filed by the acting town manager which I wrote a letter about saying he was piling on.”
Kennedy said she was troubled over the language.
Tracey Connors, administrative assistant, said a new notice had been set for this hearing, the notice that DeRensis and Humphreys never saw.
Kennedy made a motion to dismiss.
Gjesteby agreed, “There’s been too much confusion about notices.”
Humphreys told selectmen he would like to appear before the board at a later time to discuss the rights of neighbors and the rights of the Red Lion Inn…. so that everybody understands the others’ rights.