OSWEGO, NY – A local tavern owner’s request for a waiver of the noise ordinance created a din at Monday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting.
Don Wahrendorf, representing The Sting, 49 W. Bridge St., requested a noise variance for the summer months for live acoustic music (two-piece sets) on the patio between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., Wednesday-Saturday evenings, depending on the availability of the musicians.
The committee had previously tabled the request pending further information.
“I was told by one councilor that we had all kinds of complaints from people on Bridge Street. I asked the people on Bridge Street and they said they didn’t complain,” Wahrendorf said.
First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright read a correspondence he received from two dozen residents of his ward.
“As working families and homeowners, we are absolutely opposed to any waiver for the noise ordinance being granted to the Sting tavern,” he read. “The proposal to waiver or weaken the rules to allow the Sting to play music beyond the allowable 65 decibels well into the night resulted in many calls to the police last year.”
The loud music “repels families from choosing our neighborhood and encourages existing families to move out,” he continued.
“We had five complaints in two months. I don’t think that is too awfully bad,” Wahrendorf said quoting figures from the police chief.
He added that there is another bar “130 feet away” from the Sting that also has bands.
“I have gotten no complaints about any other bar,” Enwright said.
“These people chose to live in a downtown area or near a downtown area,” Wahrendorf said.
He said he wanted to know where the complaints came from, adding that “I can probably guess where they came from.”
A resident of the West Park area said the music was a nuisance in his neighborhood; and that he has walked toward Bridge Street at times and is certain the music he heard was emanating from the Sting.
Some of his neighbors are thinking about leaving, he added.
“The Sting, the Sting in particular, creates a huge noise,” he said. “I certainly don’t object to you being able to you being able to play music at night. I just question whether it has to be really loud.”
Former Third Ward Councilor Ed Harrington lives across the street from the bar.
He claimed no one actually has enforced the ordinance.
“Do I know (the noise) is coming from the Sting? You bet your life I know it’s coming from the Sting!” he said. “We’re not hurting anybody’s business down there because at best on the best night during Harborfest, there were no more than a dozen people out there. They’re blasting the music hoping they might draw someone in.”
Another area resident said they checked out the area in the daytime, before deciding to buy their home.
Now, the noise makes it difficult for them to get any sleep on the nights the bar has bands, she added.
“It’s just really disheartening. It’s difficult, it’s like if we had known this was going to be a part of our life here at this location, (we might not have moved here),” she said.
If people would contact him, Wahrendorf said he would have taken care of things.
“Absolutely, I would have had them tone it right down,” he said.
Council President Ron Kaplewicz pointed out that this council is working on creating a fair and equal way to enforce the noise ordinance and grant variances.
“We are working diligently on that effort,” he said.
There is a set decibel level that if exceeded, the establishment can be told to turn it down or turn it off, he noted.
“That’s what we’re proposing in respect to this variance,” he explained.
“We’re not looking to kill someone’s business. But, there’s no reason someone sitting on that patio … cannot listen to that music that close without the volume being so loud that it’s driving people out of their houses in the First Ward,” Harrington said. “The music need only be played loud enough for the patrons to hear; not the people across the street.”
Committee chair Dan Donovan voted to send the request to the full council for consideration. Councilors Eric VanBuren and Fran Enwright voted against.