The Portland City Council is taking a targeted approach to respond to noise concerns in the Bayside neighborhood and will consider putting conditions on individual entertainment licenses, if needed, in response to complaints or noise-ordinance violations.

“I’m comfortable going with (that plan) at this time with the understanding we could bring this back up at any time,” said Councilor Anna Trevorrow, who represents District 1, including Bayside, during a council workshop Wednesday night.

The workshop was called after the city received the results of a sound study conducted last fall in response to complaints about live music and outdoor concerts in Bayside. Staff presented the council with three options for responding, including suggestions to amend the city’s entertainment or land use ordinances.

No vote or formal action was taken, but several councilors said they support a staff recommendation to examine conditions for individual entertainment licenses, which the council already can do and wouldn’t require further action.

“We can amend the ordinance whenever we want to,” said Mayor Kate Snyder. “It doesn’t have to be as a result of tonight’s workshop … I do want to be really sensitive to the issues that have been raised and keep communication open. That’s where I am but I’m happy to go with staff’s recommendation at this point.”

The recently completed study by contractor Acentech between Aug. 13 and Nov. 1 cost the city $35,000 and used sound meters in four locations in Bayside – 60 Parris St., 65 Cove St., 179 Sheridan St. and 90 Anderson St. – as well as a fifth at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The locations were chosen based on sound complaints called in to police dispatch.


At the four Bayside locations, average sound levels were found to be 58 to 63 decibels (dBA), which would be considered “normally acceptable” by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development standards, the study said.

The average sound level at Fitzpatrick Stadium was 70 dBA, a level that HUD says is “normally unacceptable,” but which is in part because of its location near Interstate 295 and activity from the stadium itself. The stadium isn’t in an area that’s strictly regulated by municipal code and being near a highway makes it more likely to have high sound levels, the study said.

The city’s land use ordinance includes noise standards based on zoning designation. Average noise levels at the other four locations were slightly above what the code designates, but don’t constitute a violation, city Director of Permitting and Inspections Jessica Hanscombe said in an interview.

“The ambient noise levels, which are from traffic, construction, emergency vehicles, all the different sounds that are part of the neighborhood, that is not considered a violation because it’s just the noise of the neighborhood,” Hanscombe said.

She said those average noise levels are also lower than levels found in other parts of the city in a similar 2017 study.

The study also looked at noise-related complaints reported to the Portland police and compared them to the sound levels recorded by the meters at that time. Only one complaint was for noise levels exceeding what an entertainment license would allow, and that complaint was recorded at Fitzpatrick Stadium on a weekend evening. An entertainment license allows for sound levels of 85 dBA, the equivalent of a heavy truck or a noisy restaurant.


The council agreed to begin studying sound levels last June, when residents complained about The Yard’s entertainment license application for 82 Hanover St. in West Bayside. Residents later asked the city to evaluate and revise the terms of entertainment licenses in the neighborhood, citing loud outdoor concerts hosted by Maine Craft Distillery and other venues.

Jan Piribeck, who lives on Anderson Street, was among 60 residents who signed a petition last fall calling for noise protections in East Bayside and Munjoy Hill. She said the decibel levels currently deemed acceptable are too high.

“Something is wrong when you have a meter that says the decibel level is within the acceptable range when the real measure is that there are disturbances in the homes of people who live here that prevent them from carrying on in a peaceful way,” Piribeck said this week.

Peter Murray, who lives above Maine Craft Distilling on North Street, said the area’s topography amplifies the music from outdoor concerts there, carrying it into his home on summer days. Murray said he wishes success to the distillery and has no problem with indoor music but its license shouldn’t allow for outdoor concerts.

Luke Davidson, owner of Maine Craft Distilling, plans to have fewer shows this year and work with bands to monitor sound levels. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer, file

“Instead of just serving food this became a full concert operation and we have this blast of noise coming up the hill that we never had before,” Murray said.

Luke Davidson, founder and CEO of Maine Craft Distilling, said last year was the first year the distillery offered outdoor concerts. He said it had about 15 events, and the number may have contributed to neighbors’ reaction. “We thought we would do as many as possible and didn’t think it all the way through in the sense that it was a lot,” he said.


He said Maine Craft Distilling plans to do about half the number of shows this year and will work with bands to monitor sound levels. “We want to make sure we are considerate and think about our neighbors and not push the limits,” Davidson said. “We haven’t but we also want to do better.”

Eli Cayer, owner of Urban Farm Fermentory, which also hosts live music outdoors, said he is aware some neighbors have concerns and his business has worked to limit the impact.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, which is working within the ranges we’re allowed for sound and trying to keep it as quiet as possible for the neighbors,” Cayer said. “We want to be a good neighbor but we also want to be able to continue to do business.”

Councilors, in addition to supporting the idea of putting conditions on certain licenses, said Wednesday night that they would like to improve the process for reporting and following up on complaints, and educating businesses about how to work with neighbors.

“We have to capture the complaints that are made … and we have to develop a more formal circle-back process so the complainant has some contact from the (police department) that they heard the complaint and here’s the result,” said Councilor Mark Dion.

Hanscombe said staff will work with councilors to review licenses and communicate about any complaints or conversations with businesses applying for licenses. She also said staff are happy to continue to work with businesses on education and outreach to neighbors. “It probably would be something when they first apply that we tell them that should be part of their application, to let their neighbors know what they’re doing,” Hanscombe said.

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