Northampton License Commission OKs outdoor music at Miss Florence Diner, adds restrictions to JJ’s Tavern next door

  • The Northampton License Commission has granted an outdoor entertainment license that allows Miss Florence Diner to offer live acoustic music on either Saturdays or Sundays. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2021 3:41:11 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The License Commission this week granted an outdoor entertainment license that allows Miss Florence Diner to offer live acoustic music on either Saturdays or Sundays, and added restrictions to the outdoor entertainment license held by the adjoining JJ’s Tavern.

A group of neighbors attended a virtual public hearing Wednesday and said they were worried that the noise from Miss Florence Diner will disturb them, which they say has happened in the past due to outdoor music at JJ’s Tavern.

The two businesses at 99 Main St. in Florence are separately owned and operated, but share a dining and performance space under a pavilion in the rear parking lot.

The commission, after the hearing that aired noise complaints from neighbors on High and Keyes streets, voted 2-1 to require that musicians end their outdoor performances at JJ’s Tavern one hour earlier and do not use amplifiers, among other new limits.

Commissioner Natasha Yakovlev moved to amend the license for JJ’s Tavern to require that outdoor music be limited to one night per week between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. from May 1 to Oct. 1. The amendment passed 2-1 with chairman Brian Campedelli dissenting.

“I am delighted, and I think we’re all delighted, with the outcome of the meeting,” said Nina Kleinberg, of High Street, who lives behind the outdoor seating area. She said the neighbors do not want JJ’s Tavern owner Jon Neumann to lose money, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted so many local businesses.

Neumann wrote in a June letter to the License Commission that the business has taken numerous steps to make sure the noise is not excessive, including buying a decibel reader and installing sound-deadening panels on the outer wall of the building. He said that when the license allowed entertainment until 9 p.m., he voluntarily wrapped up early at 8:30 p.m.

Neumann said he gave out his cellphone number to several neighbors, and when two people called him to complain about noise on May 8, he shut down the performance right away “so we could further evaluate sound control.”

“If he has met the needs of the neighbors, then all the neighbors should get together and promote his business,” said Kleinberg. “He really tried. … We want him to thrive, and we want peace and quiet.”

Fabio Dallorto, of Keyes Street, submitted a petition that he said was signed by the majority of the residents closest to the space. The petition says that neighbors tolerated the outdoor music when it started during the pandemic last year, even though “sound propagated widely across the neighborhood,” but the circumstances have changed and the performances should occur indoors.

Andrea Gallano, of High Street, disagreed with her neighbors’ efforts in a letter to the License Commission. She said the music is pleasant and “not overly loud.”

Georgianna Brunton, owner of Miss Florence Diner, said live music would be played outdoors once per weekend at her establishment, for about two to three hours in the mid- to late morning.

Yakovlev ultimately voted against the diner’s new entertainment license, but it was granted in a 2-1 vote with Kahn and Campedelli in favor. The license allows for once-weekly soft jazz and acoustic music that is not loud enough to be a nuisance to neighbors or to prevent patrons from having casual conversations.

Campedelli defended Brunton’s plans before the public hearing.

“Let’s face it. It’s Sunday morning jazz,” said Campedelli. “That’s not gonna be a problem unless someone is looking for one.”

Brunton said she is “not looking to have a rock band, by any means.” She asked the commission to develop a clear standard for excessive noise.

Yakovlev agreed that the commission needs a noise standard, and it needs to define the word “acoustic” so that license holders will know whether acoustic performers are ever allowed to use amplifiers.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.

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