The role and importance of volunteerism should never be underestimated in how it helps to preserve the safety and well-being of all of us who live in Sag Harbor.
Volunteers are the lifeline of our community. They are not just the brave ones who risk their lives putting out our fires and delivering us to the hospital when we are most in need. Volunteers also help build cinemas, raise money for town parks, and bring art and music for free to our villages.
Among those volunteers are the local musicians who are often the first ones called to donate their time and talents to any number of local charity events and fundraisers. The importance of music goes beyond the nightclub and concert on the green — it is a unifier.
Yet the rules and ordinances on the books that dictate the way music can and cannot be presented in the village are ill-conceived, discriminatory and one-sided: no drums, no amplifiers, no more than three musicians at a time without a permit. Basically, it threatens to rob some of us of a living, as in many ways the performance of live music in a commercial venue in the village is all but illegal.
There is an effort underway in East Hampton Town, spearheaded by the Business Committee, to adopt a new set of guidelines aimed to appease both sides of the aisle, to create a level playing field for all. A music ordinance based on enforcement, governed by a reasonable decibel level, is the easiest and most reasonable method of enforcement.
And I do not mean 50 dBs, which is the level of normal conversation, but a reasonable level that allows both sides an even playing field: 65 to 70 dBs minimum, measured from the property line. With this simpler method of enforcement, there is really no need for “music permits” that tie up the town with paperwork, and no need to differentiate between “amplified” and “non-amplified,” a nightclub, a house outdoor birthday party or a yoga studio. Enforcement of a reasonable decibel level with the expertise of a knowledgeable audio engineer is the way to go.
With a decibel-based music ordinance both the musicians and venues and public are held accountable. If a complainant is told the sound level is below the limit then they will have to grin and bear it; if the level is over the limit, the venue, if not complying with a warning to correct the issue, would be ticketed.
There really are no totally perfect ordinances, none that truly is in everyone’s best interest, but we can all strive for fairness and rules that recognize the needs and rights of both sides of the aisle.
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One fine body…