The Falmouth Select Board on Monday, June 21, approved outdoor entertainment for Shipwrecked Restaurant in Falmouth Heights. There were some concerns about the volume, but not the entertainment itself.
New owner Alex Kahn assured the select board that the outdoor entertainment will be acoustic with solo or duo musicians providing background music, and they will be closer to the street than the back parking lot.
“It will be an acoustic, beachy vibe. Nothing crazy,” he said.
In letters read to the board, long-term director of the Falmouth Heights-Maravista Neighborhood Association Paula Lichter and current president of the association David Buzanoski expressed personal support for outdoor dining.
“I especially support outdoor dining which I think is one of the good things that came out of COVID,” Ms. Lichter said.
Mr. Buzanoski referred to the letter he sent to the select board in February expressing support of extended outdoor dining with COVID restrictions in place.
That said, Ms. Lichter and Mr. Buzanoski, on behalf of Falmouth Heights residents, addressed the issue of noise.
The issue is not a matter of entertainment, Mr. Buzanoski said, but is more a matter of “volume,” which he called a recurring issue in relation to outdoor entertainment, whether it be The Black Dog, The British Beer Company, Falmouth Yacht Club, Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery, or Soprano’s.
The smaller lot sizes, higher population density and close proximity of neighbors at the Heights are all significant factors upon which outdoor entertainment will have an impact, he said.
“We are not opposed to entertainment; however the volume level must be reasonable and not offensive to neighbors and community,” he said.
In terms of the entertainment license for Shipwrecked, Mr. Buzanoski expressed hope that the select board would address the issue in advance to head off potential complaints from the community.
Ms. Lichter spoke about policy and precedent. “For some years we have been asking for a policy regarding outside entertainment,” she said. “We have such a policy for indoor entertainment which clearly sets volume limits.
“The conversation began a few years ago when the neighbors contested Bad Martha's outdoor entertainment application. This resulted in a license stating: ‘Music is meant to be background music. It should be audible but easily spoken over with low amplification,’” she said.
Ms. Lichter referred to a discussion that took place at a select board meeting in March of 2020, when Black Dog applied for an outside entertainment license. She quoted then-board member Susan Moran, who said at the time that there should be a “standard that the volume of music would be no greater than to allow folks in the establishment to speak over it.”
At the time, Ms. Lichter specifically asked that the sound not carry beyond the perimeter of the establishment since it is for the benefit of patrons, not for the general public. That application was canceled due to COVID, she said.
A recent license for the Falmouth Yacht Club was approved by the select board that included the language: “Live acoustic music with volume limited to not go past the parking lot in front of the club,” Ms. Lichter said.
“Shipwrecked is located at an area much like the Yacht Club, but it is busier,” she said. “It is surrounded by the beach and a hotel, but has more residential properties within 300 feet than does the Yacht Club.”
Ms. Lichter requested of the select board that language be added to Shipwrecked’s entertainment license limiting the volume of the entertainment not to exceed the perimeter of the property.
“The music is for the benefit of the patrons, not the neighbors, nor those at the beach, park, or ball field,” she said.
Board member Nancy R. Taylor said she thought the request was reasonable and suggested adding the sentence: “Outdoor music will not extend past the property line” to Shipwrecked’s entertainment license.
“I hope everyone is reasonable after a very bad year. Music helps draw people in,” board member Megan English Braga said.