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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Court Fight Looms on Clarksburg Horizon

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Clarksburg – Mountain View Restaurant owner Michael Milazzo said on Nov. 21 that he is trying to be a “good neighbor” but if his request to bring “occasional” nude dancing events to the business is refused by town officials, he will launch a court fight and ask that nude entertainment be permitted seven days a week.

Private Meetings Wanted

Milazzo said that he would like to meet privately with town officials and town counsel Jonathan Silverstein to discuss restaurant plans with town officials.

“We would love to meet with town officials and their lawyer and us and our lawyer so that everyone would know where everyone is coming from,” he said. “And then we could go before the town and answer any questions. But if we have to go to court, we’re going all the way, seven days a week. My ideal situation would be to sit down and try to work something out. That would save us all a lot of money.”

Milazzo objected to the ongoing public hearing process, and said that he believed the public hearing was an “option” and that town officials could have met with him privately.

“As far as I know, they did not have to have a public hearing,” Milazzo said. “It was optional. I cannot fathom why we couldn’t sit down and meet. Why couldn’t there be a way for information gathering from us and from the town?”

Selectmen’s Chairwoman Debora LeFave said that the public hearing is not “optional” and is required under state law. Meeting “in private” with the Milazzo family is against open meeting laws, she noted.

“Public hearing is mandatory,” LeFave said. “We cannot even deliberate about this [the license change application] in private or executive session; this all has to be done in public at a public meeting and why wouldn’t we want it that way?”

Noise Issues Continue

Noise issues continue to plague the restaurant; a Nov. 19 noise complaint reported to police by a Mountain View Restaurant neighbor brought Milazzo and his father Anthony Milazzo to the doorstep of the woman who filed the complaint.

Teri Goodermote of 35 Jordan Ave. said that she called town police shortly before 11 p.m. to report the loud music. Goodermote said that the music was loud enough so that song lyrics were clearly audible when she placed her call. Goodermote said that she has a videotape that reflects the restaurant noise level on Nov. 18 as well.

She said she watched as a town police cruiser traveled to the restaurant and was surprised minutes later when Michael and Anthony Milazzo appeared at her door in the company of town police Officer Brian Licht.

She did speak with both Milazzos but did not permit them entry to her home, she said. She said that she was not happy that Licht brought the men to her home.

“I don’t want them down here [at her home],” she said.

Goodermote said that the Milazzos questioned whether the noise complaints were occurring because of their application to alter the restaurant’s existing entertainment license to include nude dancing.

“I have complained about the noise coming from there long before this nude entertainment thing came up,” Goodermote said. “I have said that I don’t want a nude club but that issue is between the restaurant and the town. I am calling [the police] because of the noise and that’s the only reason I am calling. I want them to turn it down.”

Police Will Be Called

Goodermote said that while the Milazzos were at her home, Michael Milazzo handed her a business card and asked her to contact him directly when a noise problem developed instead of calling police.

Milazzo acknowledged that he did provide Goodermote with a business card. According to Goodermote, Licht supported Milazzo’s proposal to bypass police with noise complaints.

Goodermote said that she would not contact the Milazzos with any complaints.

“I will continue calling the police,” she said, and noted that the only way the reports are documented is if police are called.

Town Administrator Michael Canales and town police Chief Michael Williams said that town residents should feel free to contact police about police matters no matter what the issue or where it occurs.

“Any complaint that a resident has should be directed to the police department,” Canales said.

Williams said that people are not obligated to contact police but if residents want or need police assistance, they are encouraged to call police.

“I would advise anyone with a complaint about anything in town to direct it to the obvious place, the police department,” Williams said.

Williams said that according to Licht’s report about the Saturday night complaint, while Licht was at the restaurant investigating the noise complaint, Michael and Anthony Milazzo informed Licht that they were going to go to Goodermote’s home, so he accompanied them as a “peacekeeper.”

Milazzo said that he and his father did go to Goodermote’s home to speak to her about the noise complaints. Milazzo said that he believed the noise complaints were being generated because during a September Selectmen's meeting, Lefave told neighbors to file any complaints about the restaurant with police and create a “paper trail."

LeFave did suggest residents contact police with any complaints during that meeting. The suggestion came after several North Houghton street residents complained to Selectmen about specific incidents that they attributed to restaurant patrons but were not reported to police.

Milazzo said that he is aware of two noise complaints reported soon after the restaurant opened in late 2004. He acknowledged that Goodermote was the complainant and said that he believed the noise issue had been resolved.

“It seemed to us that the noise complaints started after the [change in] license was presented,” he said.

Goodermote said that she has made several noise complaints that precede that license change application, and reiterated her contention that during one evening, she and her father made a total eight noise complaints.

Milazzo Consulting With Sound Experts

Milazzo said that the restaurant is not trying to cause a neighborhood problem. He is working with a sound expert and is considering installing a specific type of soundproofing material to reduce the noise level, he said. He is willing to work with neighbors to find solutions for “legitimate noise issues,” he said.

“They [neighbors] have to realize that the restaurant has been there since the 1930s, and most of the houses haven’t been,” Milazzo said. “They have to expect some noise, but it should not be a regular occurrence.”

Goodermote and Milazzo agreed that, while the Milazzos were at the Goodermote home, Milazzo asked if Goodermote could arrange to gather neighbors at the restaurant for a meeting. Goodermote said Milazzo told her any meeting would be about Milazzo’s plans for the nude entertainment license should it be approved; Milazzo said the meeting would be to discuss noise issues.

“We are doing all we can to rectify legitimate noise issues,” Milazzo said.

Milazzo said that he prefers private meetings to public hearings because an Oct. 26 public hearing that was continued to Nov. 16 seemed to him to be “an angry mob.”

The hearing was again continued to 7 p.m., Dec. 7, at Town Hall. Selectmen have 30 days from the hearing close to make their decision on the nude entertainment application.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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