November 26, 2014
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Music at Chelo’s Waterfront has neighbors shaking...again
Board to air complaint at Sept. 17 meeting
Warwick Beacon photo
NO WRONG DOING: Glenn Chelo, as pictured during a hearing before the Board of Public Safety in 2012, says entertainment is an important element to making his waterfront establishment successful.

The noise war between Chelo’s Waterfront and Cowesett residents is still booming after two years.

Jan Kovan, who lives 2,000 feet from Chelo’s on Reeland Avenue, and Arnold’s Neck homeowner Lisa McDuff claim this summer has been worse than last summer, as they say loud music coming from the establishment’s outdoor patio continues to be heard throughout the neighborhood.

On Aug. 31, they contacted the Warwick Police Department (WPD) and an officer took decibel readings of 52.9, 54 and 53.4 at 10:25 p.m. According to a city noise ordinance, decibel readings must not be in excess of 50 decibels after 10 p.m.

The WPD issued Chelo’s, located at 1 Masthead Drive off Post Road, a citation for excessive noise, accompanied by notification that Chelo’s appear in Municipal Court on Oct. 17. This is their first offense.

“If the city ordinance violation is sustained,” Col. Stephen McCartney wrote in an e-mail to the Warwick Beacon, “the penalty is $50 for first and second offense.”

McCartney said Chelo’s must also appear before the Warwick Board of Public Safety on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. because they are in violation of the stipulations the board placed on their live entertainment license. The board will determine the penalty of this violation if sustained.

While Kovan and McDuff said they understand that Chelo’s has the right to showcase live music, the women also wish they would keep it down. They hope the Board of Public Safety decreases Chelo’s entertainment hours and dictates what type of music is played.

“They don’t have to have these big bands,” said Kovan, a Cowesett resident for 20 years. “They are operating as a nightclub. Their music comes straight to me over a marsh and vibrates the house. We’ve just had it. We listen to this for six months out of the year from May to October four days of the week – Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between four to eight hours at a time.”

Chelo’s hosts live bands from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, 7 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays, and Sundays from 2 to 8 p.m. They are allowed to play at 60 decibels before 10 p.m.

McDuff pointed out that neighbors sometimes deal with the noise five days a week when holidays fall on Mondays. Her home is about a half-mile from Chelo’s and she said the issue has evolved over the years.

“It’s gotten steadily worse,” said McDuff. “It’s a disruption to my quality of life. I can’t even go outside and enjoy my deck, which overlooks a beautiful bird sanctuary. It’s a constant thumping, pounding [and] banging.”

Dr. Tariq Malik lives across from Chelo’s on Island View Drive with his family and also has an issue with the noise. In addition to being a physician, he teaches medicine at Brown University and has a graduate degree in Public Health from Harvard.

He views the music as “intrusive,” and feels Chelo’s interferes not only with his “pursuit of happiness,” but also negatively impacts the health and quality of life of other local residents.

“Imposition, by force, of unpleasant noise has been shown in scientific studies to be injurious to health, causing anxiety, stress, increase in heart rate, elevation of blood pressure, post traumatic stress,” he wrote to the Beacon in an e-mail.

Malik also referred to it as “environmental pollution.” He said “raunchy, sexually explicit” lyrics are often clearly audible and not suitable for a young audience.

“We cannot enjoy sitting outdoors in the summer, or indoors with windows open, to enjoy conversation among family and friends, listen to our own favorite music, pursue serious professional work or intellectual pursuits because of the nuisance and distraction,” said Malik. “I suggest incessant outdoor noise, several hours a week, irrespective of decibel requirements, must abate.”

The Law Offices of Michael A. Kelly, which represents Chelo’s, issued a statement to the Beacon on the issue. It was sent on behalf of Nicholas J. Goodier, Esq., who wrote that Chelo’s management disagrees with the violation. The restaurant’s management disputes the citation and intends on challenging it “vigorously.”

“Notably, this is the first such citation that has been received by the Restaurant in 20 years of doing business,” he wrote. “During that period, the Chelo’s family has worked harmoniously with the community, employing hundreds, and hosting thousands, of city residents. In addition, the Chelo’s family has taken extraordinary steps to alleviate issues related to parking and sound as they have arisen.”

In an interview with the Beacon last year, Chelo’s co-owner Glenn Chelo said he would have been forced to close the restaurant if they had not been allowed to showcase bands, resulting in the loss of jobs not only for more than 100 Chelo’s employees, but also less work for local musicians.

He said they stopped booking acts that drew the largest and loudest crowds, have increased free valet parking, repositioned the $45,000 soundproof stage he had specially made for the venue and invested $15,000 on a sound system to control noise levels.

But Kovan and McDuff say his efforts have done little to remedy the situation.

“They cannot stay open as a restaurant apparently, so now we have a musical venue in the middle of a residential area,” Kovan said. “They have valet parking over a quarter of a mile away because they don’t have enough parking, so people are parking all over the place. Their employees have to park at the airport and they shuttle them over.”

McDuff said she can’t understand why the owners of Chelo’s classify the establishment as a family restaurant.

“It’s a pick-up place now,” she said. “There are no children there. When have you ever seen a family restaurant bus their employees in from another location because there isn’t enough parking?”

Kovan claims she invited representatives from Chelo’s to her home a few years ago to hear how loud the music is, but said they never showed. However, she claims the manager was taking a reading outside her home Sept. 1 and apologized for the noise levels, as he agreed it was too loud.

“You can’t sit at home with your windows open and get any peace,” she said.

McCartney said police would continue to respond to complaints, enforce the law and keep the peace.

“The police will stand by and be prepared to ensure that whatever remedy is put in place, is carried out, just as we have all summer over the last two years regarding this specific problem,” he wrote.

Leslie Baxter Walaska, chairwoman of the Board of Public Safety, was contacted regarding the issue but reserved comments until the meeting.


Comments
14 comments on this item

Oh please give it a break ! You have 747's roaring over head and the Acela whizzing by, motor boats in the Bay and youre worried about Chelo's disrupting your peace and quiet? What a joke. I've been there before and I can tell you the bands are not playing sexually explicit music. Not any more than turning on the radio in your car ! Once you destroy that business and jobs and tax revenue will be lost than will you be happy ? Then you can go back to sitting out side enjoying your homes shake as the trains cruise by and the jets fly over head.

Michael, they've never heard a 747 go roaring over and the acela lasts all of 15 seconds. and the occasional cigarette boat slows as it gets close to the marino. Take the emotion out of your argument. The economy is key and the jobs are important, but Chelo's needs to keep its obligations.

I sided with chelo's in the past, but now they need to do something. If I lived in an area and couldn't enjoy being outside in the summer evenings I would be mad too. I'm the anti NIMBY poster. I was glad when Chelo's worked hard to mitigate the situation. But they clearly aren't keeping the decibels low enough. Either that or the police gauges were off.

Yes the planes can be heard you must not live in that area. I won't take emotion out of my opinion that is my right. The NIMBY's are real bad in the situation. I wonder how many homes we're are talking about? I continue to read articles on the Beacon of people complaing about noise in the city. I laugh because of the airport and train noises as well as the cigarette boats. Also, don' t forget it is a large city. Cities are always going to have more pollution including "sound" polliution.

You can hear planes. I didn't say you couldn't. I wrote they've never heard a 747. Which is what you wrote are "roaring over head". It has never happened. Not a single time. I do live in the area and hear the planes all the time. If a plane is particularly loud you stop your conversation for 15 seconds and then continue with your life.

You have a right to stay angry, and you can continue to be wrong about what planes fly overhead as well. How close do you live to Chello's? I hear the music all the time but live far enough away as to not be bothered.

Honestly, these people who live closeby have a very valid complaint. I live near the church on Long St and can hear the music in my house if the windows are open. Sitting outside on a summer night I can even tell what song it is.

I completely disagree with the opinion in this article that this is not a family restaurant. We love bringing our young daughter here in the summer because she can run around in the back while we enjoy a beautiful relaxing meal on the waterfront. There is always a ton of families doing exactly the same thing. We've even been able to enjoy the bands with our daughter and while the term explicit is subjective I can say on any of the occasions we've been there it's always been top 40's type music. Either this place turns into a completely different restaurant later at night (we always are there earlier and gone by 9-9:30) or these people are exaggerating. Honestly, it sounds like some of the neighbors have an expectation of someone who has several acres of property out in a secluded area. I don't get complete silence at my home all summer and I don't even have a restaurant within several miles of my home. When you buy property near an area zoned for business does it not cross your mind there are risks? It sounds like these neighbors won't stop the fight until the music is gone altogether- a decibel reading at 10:25 on Labor Day weekend. Were they waiting by the phone for 10 pm to strike to "catch" Chelo's in violation? Sheesh- head on down and enjoy the music, or maybe a stiff drink to calm down!

Chelo's started out having bands on a Sunday afternoon. It has evolved into a club scene. If someone who lives a half a mile away experiences rattling windows then it's just too loud. Chelo's markets itself as a family establishment and they should do right by the families who live in the neighborhood. They are not asking for the music to be eliminated. Just turned down. And yes, these people bought houses near the airport. That was obvious. Most have probably owned them longer than Chelo's has been there and the others I'm sure were not aware of noise when they bought. I'm a realtor and no one I know would schedule to show a potential buyer a house when there was a band playing nearby.

If your going to accuse Chelo's of any wrong-doing, at least get your facts straight. First off, saying Chelo's is not a family restaurant is far from the truth. Just take a look at all the plaques and awards they have received on being family friendly alone. Chelo's is probably one of the few, if not THE ONLY, restaurant in RI where a family can go out with their children, enjoy drinks and dinner by the water, and listen to good TASTEFUL music. All weekend long you will see kids out on the dance floor having a blast with their parents. The music is the same songs you hear on the radio today. It is for listeners of all ages. Calling Chelo's a night club scene? Once again FAR from the truth. It seems to me that these people complaining sit outside their houses and try to listen as hard as they can for the music, just so they can complain about it. How about you stop being bitter and miserable. What do you want to get out of this? No more live music? Well lets see then, that means decrease in business and loss in jobs. You really want to see dozens of employees lose their jobs because of YOU? There are parents that work there, single mothers, and college students trying to make money to pay for their education. Also, you clearly don't seem to know what your talking about seeing as the airport is miles away from Chelo's on the water. Plus, there is no shuttle either. Your trying to make it seem like Chelo's is a bad place. Well guess what it's not! If you don't believe me, just ask all the families that come every weekend to spend some quality time together.

Chelos should turn to quieter live entertainment, softer bands with live acoustic instruments and no amplifiers. The neighbors should NOT have loud intrusive noise penetrating their living space. In our society, our home is our castle, and we should be able to live without forced intrusions. Sorry Chelos, I'm with the neighbors on this one.

People should have some cheese with their whine.

This state has a complete lack of tourist friendly/fun things to do near the water.

God forbid you have a place for people to go, have fun and enjoy some music and a bar scene outside on the water.

In other states you will find boardwalks, hotels and bars lining the shoreline hoping to bring in tourist and local dollars (and additional tax revenue)

In RI you have a bunch of houses on the water, no attractions at all for the most part.

then people wonder why we're the armpit of new england.

Hey Flanalo,

They should do right by the families and quiet down? Well then as a realtor you should do right by the people you are dealing with and show them the house when the music is playing. I love you are all THEY NEED TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT and then you basically say you would conceal to potential home buyers there is loud music by showing them the house at a time they would not hear the music. So doing the right thing only comes when it is not lining your pockets?

patientman why 747's aren't used at TF Green? What about that huge and loud ups plane?

Flanalo too bad we don't know your real name because you would be all done selling or buying homes. With a statement like that you are a snake in the grass. Dishonest. So, I bet when showing a house that has airport noise you wait until there are no flights flying over head also. What else do you hide??

I constantly hear loud sirens from police, fire and rescue vehicles.. And the airplanes. And the motorcycles and traffic, as well as the loud radios played in said traffic.....Guess what? You live in a CITY! Suck it up and be happy it's MUSIC you get to "complain" about instead of something less pleasant such as gunshots, bombs and screams as some countries are dealing with! Get over it people. Music. Good grief. Do you HEAR yourselves? Why ever would people complain about THAT? Sounds like you would be better off somewhere in the country. BY YOURSELVES. Perhaps you could spend some time overseas in a less pleasant war-torn country and realize just how LUCKY you are to be able to complain about something as pleasant as MUSIC!

Yes Michael 747's aren't used at T.F. Greene.

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