Oar House Pub owner James Bennett is promising his neighbors he will take steps to mitigate the loud music.
By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
The noise, they say, was unbearable. It made their lives miserable at times.
Music blasting from an outdoor bar at the Oar House Pub last summer was so loud that some of them no longer wanted to stay at their vacation homes in Sea Isle City, they said.
“My wife sits there and cries,” said Keith Ruck, who has a home on 43rd Place close to the Oar House. “This was our happy place. It isn’t anymore. She doesn’t want to come down.”
Ruck and his wife, Maryellen, were among a group of frustrated neighbors living next to the Oar House who complained to City Council on Tuesday about excessively loud live music emanating from the outdoor bar.
Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant on Park Road, a block away from the Oar House, told Council that the loud music would force some of his customers to box up their dinners and leave.
He said the music would “blast my customers right off the dock.”
“I’m not here to push anyone in the corner, but we have to work and live here together,” Monichetti said of his hope that the Oar House would be a better corporate neighbor.
Gerry Deery, Monichetti’s brother-in-law, described the volume of the music from the Oar House as “incredible.” He said that when he is at Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, the customers complain about the music next door and say, “I just can’t eat here.”
Deery lives in a residence on the second floor above Mike’s Seafood and also owns a home on 43rd Street close to the Oar House.
Some of the neighbors living near the Oar House also complained about profane, inebriated customers leaving the outdoor bar, crowding and drinking on the public sidewalks. One neighbor said that it potentially raises liability questions for the property owner and the city.
Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, says his customers are being blasted by the Oar House’s loud music.
Formerly known as the Lobster Loft, the Oar House Pub is prominently located on 42nd Place near the corner of Park Road in the heart of Sea Isle’s historic Fish Alley neighborhood, an enclave of restaurants and commercial fishing boats. It is owned by well-known local businessman James Bennett.
Bennett, who attended the Council meeting and heard a litany of complaints, said he sympathized with the neighbors and promised to take steps to reduce the noise for the upcoming summer tourism season.
“I hear everyone and believe me, it’s not my intention to ruin anyone’s quality of life,” Bennett said.
He added, “We want to be part of the community. We don’t want to be a problem.”
The first thing he plans to do is install his own sound system for the Oar House’s outdoor bar and have his own technician regulate the volume of the music, he said. Last year, the bands that played at the bar had their own sound systems, and the Oar House would rely on them to control the volume, he explained.
Bennett also said he plans to install insulation and what he described as essentially a sound wall to tone down the noise.
“I intend to mitigate that sound, because I want to be part of the community,” he said.
During his remarks at the Council meeting, Bennett said he plans to have the sound system and noise wall in place by Memorial Day weekend.
In an interview after the meeting, he said the noise-mitigation measures are part of a signed agreement he made following his appearance before a judge and a mediator in a private complaint filed against the Oar House by a neighbor.
Keith Ruck, a resident of 43rd Place, is frustrated by the Oar House’s booming music.
The outdoor bar made its debut last year as part of the Oar House’s expansion. Neighbors who complained to Council about the noise said they are hearing rumors that the Oar House will expand again and vowed to adamantly oppose it if that happens.
“You can definitely see a difference with the expansion,” said Michael Scanlan, who has a summer home on 43rd Place. “Where does it end?”
Scanlan told the Council members that music is so loud that it permeates his house.
“You’re sitting on the couch and you can feel the bass,” he said. “It’s a change, and it’s definitely affected the quality of life in Fish Alley.”
Glenn Winistorfer, who also has a home on 43rd Place, said he believes the Oar House has been violating Sea Isle’s municipal noise ordinance. He noted he has complained to police about the loud music.
“It’s been very upsetting for anybody in our neighborhood,” Winistorfer said.
Capt. Anthony Garreffi, the officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department, said the Oar House has not been cited by police for violating the noise ordinance.
Garreffi noted that he is not personally aware of any complaints that residents may have filed against the Oar House. But he added that police are ready to respond to any complaints if they are made to the department.
Capt. Anthony Garreffi, officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department, talks to residents about the noise emanating from the Oar House.
In another matter at the Council meeting, residents said they are alarmed by rumors that some pranksters are planning to jump into the lagoon off the floating docks behind the now-closed Andrea Trattoria restaurant at the corner of Park Road and 42nd Place. It is supposed to happen over Presidents Day weekend.
“If that would occur, I would hope the city would shut it down immediately,” Ruck said.
Neighbors said they fear that trespassers would also jump off their property into the lagoon or bay. They are worried about people possibly getting hurt by jumping into deep, frigid water.
Garreffi said it would be illegal for trespassers to jump into the bay off private property. He noted that police would be ready to respond if that happened.
Presidents Day weekend is traditionally the time when thousands of visitors come to Sea Isle for the Polar Bear Plunge, a madcap dip in the chilly ocean. For 25 years, the plunge served as the centerpiece of a holiday weekend of partying, dining and shopping in town.
In 2021, the plunge was canceled because of the pandemic. This year, Polar Bear Plunge will not be held because of a new city policy that bars privately run events, such as the plunge, from being held on public property.
The city said major private events put too much strain on Sea Isle’s police and Public Works departments and also expose the town to potential liability lawsuits if someone is injured or killed.
In the meantime, reports continue to circulate on social media that people will jump in the ocean over the Presidents Day weekend for unofficial plunges. Garreffi said it would not be illegal for them to take a plunge in the ocean, a public place.
As a precaution, however, police and lifeguard rescue crews are planning to patrol the beaches over the holiday weekend to respond to any possible emergencies from people jumping in the ocean.
While some unofficial plunges are expected to occur in the ocean, there are rumors circulating that people may also jump into the lagoon or bay off 42nd Place as a prank, neighbors said.
Garreffi, though, said he’s heard no such rumors. In addition, City Solicitor Paul Baldini said during the Council meeting that no one has made a request to the city to jump into the bay.
Rumors are circulating that some people may jump into the lagoon off 42nd Place as a prank during Presidents Day weekend.