by Renea Henry

Larchmont-Mamaroneck, NY Patch

October 14, 2010

Only the cooler weather seems to bring reprieve from the noise of patrons at popular Molly Spillane’s restaurant on Mamaroneck Avenue, residents say. Frustration continues on all sides.

By day, it’s a friendly place to eat lunch and chat with friends.

But on the weekends—according to some residents and more than a few police calls—Molly Spillane’s gets entirely too noisy.

Restaurant owner Mike Hynes said he’s done everything possible to keep the noise level down, but nearby residents say they have had to deal with sounds at a greater level and longer duration than they anticipated when the bar opened in April 2009.

Despite continually reporting the problem to police and previous meetings with the Village Board, the disruptions continue, residents said.

Molly Spillane’s is open Monday through Wednesday until 2 a.m. and Thursday through Sunday until 4 a.m. According to its website, the atmosphere is “family oriented, lively nightlife.” By all accounts, even those of frustrated residents, the bar is a great, friendly hangout and Hynes is a civic-minded, cooperative owner. But the noise has become a bad fence keeping Molly and her neighbors apart.

At least 10 meetings have been held to address noise there, including a Downtown Task Force that met seven times to discuss downtown and nightlife development during the summer of 2009.

For his part, Hynes fiercely defends his business. According to him, complaints have significantly dropped since last year and he says he hasn’t been warned about noise or fined by the village. Molly’s did receive a summons for violating the noise ordinance on April 23 of this year. “There is no problem,” Hynes said. “It’s 2 or 3 people.”

On June 8, 2009, a petition signed by 20 residents living near Molly’s was presented to the Village Board during a regular Trustees’ meeting. At a trustees’ meeting the following month, Regatta Condominium Association President Dominick Ruggiero reaffirmed that he had received “many complaints from residents on the north side of the building” about noise at Molly Spillane’s.

“We’ve had regular complaints,” said Village Manager Richard Slingerland. “They’ve dropped off over the past year. I’m not sure why.”

Slingerland, who has an office in the Regatta building, has heard the noise himself. “I’ve been here past midnight. If I open my [office] windows, the music can be heard very clearly.”

He continued: “There’s several things we’re trying keep in mind. We have to balance the needs of residents with business. The residents were here before the business opened, but the business has permission to operate and proper business permits.”

Hynes points out a row of trees he planted on the patio facing Prospect Avenue. “What more can I do?” he said. “This is a merchant commercial strip. I don’t have any answers for them and they [residents] don’t have any answers.”

One suggestion is that the outdoor terrace, which accommodates up to 80 people, be closed earlier. And while the music may be lowered or turned off, sound from talking and shouting customers continues until closing time.

Hynes is not required to make any alterations. The restaurant is compliant with village code regulations.

Ted Rueter, director of the Albany-based group Noise Free America, holds not just Hynes responsible for the situation, he assigns some responsibility for the situation to the village.

“I kind of blame the city,” Rueter said. “They shouldn’t allow unregulated, unrestricted noise for 18 hours a day. Residents shouldn’t have to go through that.”

He claimed only 2 to 5 percent of people bothered by noise actually report it. “Most people don’t complain.”

But Rueter did encourage Hynes to consider more substantive changes, like noise-dampening equipment. “He can make money without making noise,” Rueter said.

Hynes insists there are no measurable noise infractions at his restaurant, referring to specific decibel limits in the language of the Village Code.

Village Police Chief Christopher Leahy explains that the standard is actually one of reasonability—what would likely disturb others.

Temporary relief may be in sight.

After Oct. 31, the sidewalk cafe areas on Mamaroneck Avenue will close until next April. Nearby residents are also likely looking forward to the installation of the outdoor tent Molly’s uses over its terrace during cold weather months. The tent dampens the noise from late night terrace patrons.