NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A local restaurant and the tenants above it are accusing the other of noise and harassment.
Michael Fletcher, who lives at 69 Main St., said the noise coming from Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza at 67 Main after hours had become so intrusive he has called police. Ramunto's owners TJ Maroney and Brendan Bullett say the Fletchers have harassed their customers.
The Licensing Board, in the end, asked the parties to try to resolve the issue by being considerate to their neighbors, work with the landlord and come back in December to see how things went.
The hearing followed a formal complaint made the Fletchers.
Fletcher said there had been nothing out of the ordinary over the summer, when the restaurant was mainly doing takeout and dining outside but it seemed to noisier around Labor Day.
"As I've said before, my problem has never been anything going on while they're open. It always seems to be after they close," he said, citing occasions when he called police — twice one night — because of amount of noise being made after hours. "My main issue with the whole thing is that the letter clearly states that there's not supposed to be any alcoholic beverages served after 11 o'clock or to be any persons on site, other than employees. It was 10 minutes to 12, there are photographs of these people sitting at the bar with drinks in front of them."
Bullett pointed out that none of the police reports have any reference to alcohol, only noise complaints, and that no one but employees and family members who are helping clean up are allowed inside after hours.
"I have a police reports all in front of me, in each one I've looked you don't see any report of us serving alcohol after hours," he said. The reports also show complaints before 11 p.m., including one at around 7:33 p.m., he continued.
"I think we're both fairly reasonable people. We are trying to run a business in a very difficult time. We are not a bar that has a jukebox, live music," Bullett said. "We're mostly a family restaurant to be honest. Some nights the only noise might be a Spotify playlist on the television."
Fletcher says his wife was told when she went downstairs to complain that if they didn't like it they should move. Bullett said Mrs. Fletcher could be seen on their security cameras outside taking pictures of patrons and had told some she hoped they got COVID. The restaurant was considering taking out a no-trespass order against her, he said.
Fletcher said he wasn't trying to drive the restaurant out of business but just wanted some consideration. He did say his wife had taken pictures of employees not wearing masks and sent them to the Board of Health.
"I'm not interested in listening to these people carry on like this at midnight or one o'clock in the morning," he said. "I'm sure the police are sick and tired of me calling them with this on a regular basis and we've got times when they don't bother to come over there."
Bullett said there's only a skeleton crew to clean and that he's been checking in on the weekends to ensure everyone is following the rules. Fletcher acknowledged that things seemed to have improved the last few weeks.
Board member Peter Breen said noise between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. falls under state statute. He suggested that Bullett and Maroney speak with the landlord about better soundproofing for the ceiling.
"We don't need people sitting at a bar at 11 o'clock at night, no matter what they're doing," he said. "Maybe it's a situation of up to 11 o'clock, it's a place with televisions and, I understand that, and at 11 o'clock it needs to be like a church."
Last call should be at 10:30 p.m. and all alcohol off the bar at 11, said board member Rosemari Dickinson, and that there should be no one in the restaurant other than those finishing their shift.
If Fletcher had further issues, she recommended Inspection Services, police or Planning Board since the commission's focus is sales and service of alcohol.
Bullett said he has been in contact with the landlord and manager about installing muting material on the ceiling.
"When you rent a place above a restaurant, you're going to have some noise. If you rent a place on a main street in the downtown, you're going to have some noise," he said. "We try to be as respectful as possible."
Board member Michael Obasohan was not able to participate in the remote discussion on Tuesday. It appears that his profile may have been hacked and there were several disturbances — posting of a swastika, music and foul language — when he tried to join the Zoom meeting.
Because of his absence, the board delayed a full discussion on the potential for license rebates for bars that have not be able to open because of the pandemic regulations.
"Some establishments have been closed since March, and they paid for a year, and I've had a few questions come to me, saying, was there anything the city could do to give them some kind of a rebate," Dickinson said. "It's not something we've ever had happen before but it's something we can think about and talk about at a later date."