Portland’s nine city councilors have sent a letter to a developer and a concert promoter in neighboring Westbrook decrying noise from concerts this summer.

The letter sent Thursday said the promoter, Waterfront Concerts, has demonstrated an “inability to be a respectful neighbor” and asks for data on the noise levels at the concerts and information on any instances when the volume was turned down.

Opening night at Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row prompted noise complaints from miles around. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Concerts at the site of the future Rock Row development off Larrabee Road and Route 25 in Westbrook began in May and prompted hundreds of noise complaints from the start. The last of this year’s 16 scheduled performances will be at the end of the month.

Many of the complaints came from Portland neighborhoods near the city’s border with Westbrook.

The council’s letter also said that about 20 people were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland from the concert site “with complications from intoxication.”

“We’re getting consistent feedback that this is a disruption of the quality of life” for many Portland residents, said Councilor Brian Batson, who wrote the letter and whose district runs along the city line with Westbrook. “I’ve never been so inundated with so many complaints as this summer.”


Batson said the data is needed in case Waterfront Concerts tries to develop a mitigation plan over the winter or seeks to increase the number of concerts it stages next year.

So far, he said, Waterfront Concerts hasn’t put forth “a good faith effort” to try to limit noise from the concerts.

Waterfront Concerts also generated noise complaints, although not as many, when it staged shows on Portland’s Maine State Pier through 2018. Batson said the promoter who puts on shows at Thompson’s Point, another outdoor venue in Portland, has been more proactive about addressing noise complaints.

The complaints about the Rock Row concerts began with the first concert, in May, and have continued, largely unabated, throughout the summer. At one point, Westbrook police told residents not to call them about the noise because they have no enforcement power over the noise at the concerts.

Under an agreement with Westbrook officials, Waterfront Concerts hired a noise compliance officer to monitor a handful of decibel meters located in Westbrook and Portland, and was required to cut the volume if the noise exceeded an agreed-upon level.

But a decision to lower the volume only happened once, when the compliance officer received a large number of complaints from a specific Portland neighborhood where residents had complained previously. The volume cut was voluntary in that case because decibel levels had not been exceeded.


Lynda Adams, a consultant to Waterstone Properties, the developer of Rock Row, declined to comment on the letter, which she said she hadn’t seen as of Thursday afternoon.

But she said the company is concerned about the noise complaints and is working with Waterfront Concerts to address them. “We continue to work on it and it’s a work in progress,” she said.

An email seeking comment from Waterfront Concerts was not returned Thursday.

Jerre Bryant, Westbrook’s city manager, got a copy of the letter from Portland on Thursday and said he is encouraging Waterstone Properties and Waterfront Concerts to provide the information that councilors are seeking.

“It’s very important that the information be out, be public and be shared,” he said.

Bryant said the city and Waterfront Concerts have a land use agreement governing the number of concerts and the noise monitoring. If the promoter wants any changes to that agreement, such as increasing the number of concerts for next year, it would need to go back to the city Planning Board for approval.

Waterfront Concerts originally sought to hold 30 concerts at Rock Row this year, but agreed to scale back plans for the first year of operation. The promoter has been widely expected to seek an increase in the number of concerts for next year, but Adams said that as far as Waterstone Properties knows, no decision on that has been made yet.

“We are pushing both Waterstone and Waterfront Concerts to be more responsive,” Bryant said. He said the only violation of the land use permit that he knows of was one instance where the concert ran past the cutoff time by four or five minutes. Concerts are supposed to end no later than 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays before a holiday and 10 p.m. other nights.

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