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No action taken against The Still, parking ban denied

Date: 10/9/2015

AGAWAM – The Agawam City Council unanimously decided to take no action against The Still Bar & Grill after reported noise complaints, finding the owner’s efforts to mitigate the situation adequate at its Oct. 5 meeting.    

Neighbors behind the bar complained about noise levels and vibrations, particularly on nights when live bands performed.

Councilor Bob Rossi, the chair of the Administrative Committee, which led the meetings said it was important to take the concerns of the neighbors seriously. However, Councilor Gina Letellier said that of the complaints made, only one on Dec. 19, 2014 was founded. The subsequent complaints were either unfounded by the responding police officers or the management at The Still lowered the volume when asked.

Though Stephen Buoniconti, the attorney representing The Still, said his client did not necessarily agree with some of the complaints issues, steps had been made to prevent further complaints. The owners of The Still had an Agawam company, Sound Seal, come in and test the frequencies multiple times. Bouniconti said in that time, the numbers changed favorably.

The sound proofing equipment, he said, was installed on Aug. 26.

Buoniconti said he and his clients were “on thin ice” once the review process had begun, but since then, The Still has worked to keep noise levels down.

“Since May, there has not been one complaint that has been verified as being a noise issue out of The Still. We have tried to comply with that,” he said.

Letellier said it seemed the council was making a “mountain out of molehill” with the issue.

Councilor Joseph Mineo said there were other areas of town that have more of an issue with noise, namely the neighborhood near Six Flags New England. He expressed concern about how it would look to revoke The Still’s amusement license.

“I went over there in July. The music is not loud. I went to the back of the building and could not hear the music with the door closed,” Mineo said. “I think we need to be very careful with what we’re doing here … We are setting a precedent by doing something like this.”

Councilor Cecilia Calabrese reminded the council to consider that “this is someone’s livelihood,” and ultimately, they voted unanimously to take no action against The Still.       

The council also voted down a resolution to add “No Parking” signs on School Street.

Several residents appeared before the council, raising concerns over the proposed parking ban on School Street. The residents said street parking has never been an issue in the neighborhood. Many of the neighbors have already allotted five feet of their driveways to Agawam to widen the streets for a bike lane, already limiting their parking space for guests.

Mayor Richard Cohen proposed the “No Parking” signs on School Street.

Letters had been sent to those residents who would be impacted by the ban, and while councilors received several calls and emails against the ban, only one resident spoke in favor.

After a handful of summer concerts at School Street Park that caused parking concerns, Letellier said she was initially concerned. The parking for those concerts “disturbed” her, but the concerts only run through the summer.

“To ban parking for one or two bad events I don’t think is the right answer,” she said.

Because of a bike lane that has been added to the street, Councilor Bob Rossi concerns about parked cars creating obstructions for cyclists. Letellier pointed out that Police Chief Eric Gillis said there was no Massachusetts law against parked cars in bike lanes.

Rossi questioned this.

“I would suggest through the chair that Councilor Letellier would maybe want to check the rules of the road. I think you might find something in there,” Rossi said.

Letellier said she would choose to believe the chief of police.

The Council ultimately sided with the residents.