Co-owners of Chelo’s Waterfront weren’t thrilled at Tuesday night’s Board of Public Safety hearing, as the board altered their live entertainment license, ruling that bands and musicians end their sets an hour earlier on Friday and Saturday nights for the rest of the season.
Considering that there are about another three to four weekends left of the season, that’s a maximum total of eight hours. Before the hearing, Chelo’s was allowed to host bands until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Live entertainment must now stop at 10 p.m.
“I assume that Mr. [Glenn] Chelo was not happy with the decision and he expressed some frustration,” Col. Stephen McCartney said during a brief phone interview with the Warwick Beacon yesterday afternoon. “Hopefully he’s having a better day. I think the board’s decision was just.”
The ruling was made after Cowesett residents contacted the Warwick Police Department (WPD) Aug. 31, citing “incessant” loud music. An officer issued a citation upon taking decibel readings of 52.9, 54 and 53.4 around 10:25 p.m., a time when decibel readings must not be in excess of 50 decibels. They are allowed to play at 60 decibels before 10 p.m.
Chelo’s is also required to appear in Municipal Court on Oct. 17. This is their first offense.
Jan Kovan, who lives 2,000 feet from Chelo’s on Reeland Avenue, attended the hearing and provided testimony about the noise. During a brief phone interview yesterday morning, she said she is satisfied with the ruling.
“I thought that the penalty from the Board of Public Safety was more than fair to Chelo’s,” said Kovan. “I was surprised at how seriously Chelo’s took the violation.”
At the hearing, attorneys representing Chelo’s questioned the officer who issued the violation. They wanted to know why he took the readings seconds apart, as opposed to minutes apart.
The Law Offices of Michael A. Kelly, which represents Chelo’s, issued a statement to the Beacon Tuesday afternoon concerning the ruling. It was sent on behalf of John O. Mancini, Esq., who wrote that the restaurant’s management disagrees with the violation and intends to dispute it before the city’s Municipal Court Oct. 17.
Mancini said the citation came as a surprise to the Chelo’s family, as this is their first violation relative to the noise ordinance in 20 years of operation.
“The Chelo’s family contends that the board should have waited for the city’s Municipal Court to fully adjudicate the violation prior to considering and/or taking any action,” wrote Mancini. “Therefore, the methodology and procedure used, along with the evidence relied upon by the board, infringed upon their rights.”
He went on to write that Chelo’s feels scrutinized by repeated reviews. They believe they have not been treated fairly.
“The board’s determination is drastic and not appropriate given the fact that they have yet been afforded an opportunity to contest the pending citation before the authorize tribunal,” Mancini wrote. “Consequently, the Chelo’s family has been left with no other choice but to seek redress in Superior Court.”
Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, Chelo’s filed a motion in Superior Court to block the hearing but lost.
Chelo’s is allowed to host live bands from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, 7 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and Sundays from 2 to 8 p.m.
"We try very hard to balance the needs of the neighborhoods and business community," Board Chairwoman Leslie Baxter Walaska wrote in an email yesterday. "Chelo's is a valuable member of Warwick's business community, and with only two weeks left in the season for outdoor music, a one hour reduction would not be too onerous to them."