The North End Chamber of Commerce (NECC) is meeting today in a members-only session with local officials to advocate for open restaurant/bar/cafe windows past 11:00 pm, sidewalk furniture and to oppose current requirements for multiple presentations to neighborhood groups on zoning and licensing issues. In advance of the meeting, the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) issued a letter with its position on these subjects.
The Chamber’s meeting announcement states, “We will discuss and update members on the growing concerns about local neighborhood boards and their proposals about:
- North End businesses closing their doors and windows at 11pm and removing any chairs, benches and signage from their sidewalks.
- The requirements of mulitple meetings with neighborhood councils in order to present changes in our businesses to City Hall. Neighborhood businesses feel the process is too long and costly.”
In response to the NECC all-members meeting announcement, NEWRA President, Stephanie Hogue, issued a letter to City Councilor Sal LaMattina and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz. Both elected officials are scheduled to attend the NECC’s closed session meeting at St. Leonard Church today at 3:00 pm. The NEWRA letter includes the following:
“Closing of doors and windows at 11:00pm: Noise emanating from a business establishment
after 11:00pm is a violation for which the business owner can be cited. Noise is an escalating
quality-of-life issue for North End residents. Many restaurant owners have chosen to install
folding floor-to-ceiling windows along the fronts of their establishments. In order to minimize
disturbance to neighboring residents and subsequent calls to the police for noise complaints, it is
reasonable to require that these windows be closed at 11:00pm.”
“Sidewalk obstruction: The sidewalks are a public way and should be kept clear of obstruction, especially on streets heavily traveled by pedestrians. According to the Department of Public Works Rules and Regulations, Part I, General Rules, Section 2.a.: “No person shall place or maintain any encroachment projecting 12 inches or more into, placed on, or over, a public way in the City of Boston, without a permit therefor issued by the Commissioner, except as otherwise provided for in section 3.”
“Section 2.g. further states, “Ground signs shall not be placed on the surface of any public way.”
The proliferation of tables and chairs, benches, and particularly ground signs on North End
sidewalks is an impediment to the movement of pedestrians and a potential safety hazard. The
applicable regulations should be enforced. Clearing the sidewalks from obstruction will protect
pedestrians, including business patrons, from unnecessary risk and business owners from possible
personal injury suits.”
“The North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) is aware of the frustration of some business owners with the neighborhood review process. We are discussing ways to streamline the process for applicants while maintaining suitable notification of impacted neighbors. It is our hope that we can work together with the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) to improve the review process for both residents and business owners.”
“The majority of applications by business owners, including restaurant owners, has received the support of the residents. Business owners should understand that, in choosing to open an establishment in the North End, they are choosing to operate a business in an area that is primarily residential. Accordingly, they should expect some restrictions to their operations that they would not have in a purely business or entertainment district.”
“It is our belief that, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In a densely populated community such as the North End, our “fences” are the laws and regulations that maintain order and prevent any activity from unduly infringing upon the rights of others. Consistent application of the law protects residents’ quality of life and ensures equal opportunity for all business owners, large and small. It promotes the delicate balance between the needs of residents and those of business owners, that is essential to maintaining a sustainable, livable neighborhood.” Read the full NEWRA letter (pdf).
NEWRA is one of the two primary neighborhood groups, along with the Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), voting on zoning and licensing issues in an advisory capacity to City officials. At a recent NEWNC meeting, NECC Chairman of the Board, Frank DePasquale, elaborated on the Chamber’s concerns. A video of that discussion can be viewed here.