Don't stop the music, residents say

| 19 Aug 2015 | 07:01

By Frances Ruth Harris
— Some people love listening to music outdoors. Some love the sounds of silence.

The Milford Borough council is trying to reconcile these contrasting desires through new regulation. Permits would be required for farmers markets, like the one held every from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday at the Grotto restaurant on Harford Street, and for any amplified concert held outdoors. The council came up with the ordinance changes after getting complaints about noise. The farmers market at the Grotto, which offers live music, has been operating without a permit since May.

Some 50 residents packed the council meeting Monday, with most expressing their support for music and markets by objecting to any new impediments.

“Please don’t forget the people of Milford," said resident Joan Waldman, who believes the new requirements are too rigid. “Does it matter that people want and need the farmer’s market in Milford? We're coming toward the end of the season."

The borough's solicitor, John Klemeyer, said the ordinances were “not pulled out of the air."

"People don’t want to go to farms," Klemeyer said. "We have a balancing act between the commercial district and the residential district."

Council members expressed their support for the farmers market while explaining why such markets need to be regulated.

Pike County Commissioners' Chair Donald Quick said Pennsylvania's Right to Farm Act, which aims to "conserve and protect and encourage agricultural land," puts limitations on municipalities to prevent "nuisance suits and ordinances" that interfere with agriculture.

'An amp is an amp'The new ordinance allows a business to hold an event "without amplification" once every four weeks, up to four times a year, but only on Saturdays from 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., or Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Live shows can't include more than four entertainers at a time.

Many in the crowd said this was too limiting.

Ann Street resident Sue Novak said she loves live music, which is why she moved to the borough.

This “additional step in the process does not promote what Milford business needs," Wallace insisted. "We need to include the arts.”

Musician Lee Raydon agreed.
Resident Jeff Tartum called the distinction between live and recorded music “hypocrisy." What's the difference, he asked, between music at the farmers market and music at the ballpark, which also attracted complaints.

“That’s recorded and amplified, so what’s the difference?” Tartum said of the ballpark music.

Casmus said recorded music could be turned down. But several in the audience objected. "An amp is an amp is an amp," they said.

David Wallace of Air Soil Water, which sponsors the farmers market, said phone apps that measure amplification are now available. But Klemeyer said that, in terms of legal enforcement, it’s not that simple.

Ken Hubeny said he liked the market's non-GMO produce and hoped there is “some way this can be worked out.” The audience applauded.

Gail Shuttleworth talked about Milford and “what great things we do.”

'We're self-policing'Vendor Jeff Tatrum objected to the cost of the new requirements, which demand more money for police protection and permits.

"Almost all of the vendors have other jobs and are not making much at the market," he said. "More permits signal more loopholes.”

Wallace said his group was self-policing and has a great track record.

After saying, "We want to work together in a positive way," resident Kevin Holian said the council should ask the police department how many calls they receive about the Sunday market.

"Probably none," Mayor Bo Fean answered.

Confusion, for nowCouncilman Joseph Casmus said he could think of three other places in the borough where the market could be held, but he did not say what they were.

When audience members asked about the cost of various permits, no one on the council knew.

“I really don’t know," said Secretary Liz Samuelson. "I’m not really sure.”

No one stayed on any one topic long enough to reach an understanding. Speakers were sometimes cut off.

“This sucks," John Longendorfer of the Golden Fish Gallery told the council. "This is repressive and un-American. I’m really pissed.”

People continued to come up with questions afterward. For example: what happens if a musician inside a business performs by an open window or door? Would this create the need for a new permit?

It's still unclear to many residents what would be allowed inside or outside, with or without amplification, for cultural events or athletic ones.

People left the meeting wondering what had just happened.

The council tabled any action until a future meeting. Council members promised to review all of the public's comments before making a decision.

More ordinance changes to regulate sidewalk signs will be discussed at a future meeting.

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