A unique legal settlement has gone down just across town from Lawyer.com headquarters here in Basking Ridge, NJ. Apparently, a combo bar/restaurant called the Bamboo Grille had its liquor license suspended because of noise complaints from two neighbors. Not, of course, the rowdy roadhouse kinds of noises like bar fights and hollers, but that of amplified live music. Each spring prior to 2011, the bar opened up its mezzanine to the likes of acoustic duo 3 West and the Ed Fleischman Jazz trio. Clearly, raucous and disruptive young punks. These performances, from 7-10 pm Thursday through Saturday (what I like to call “bedtime for boring people”), were enough to rile up a couple of families across the way, who filed numerous complaints with the township over the course of three years. In 2011, the township suspended Bamboo Grille’s liquor license, later returning it on the condition that the bar no longer use electricity for outdoor music. Since then, the bar has been embroiled in a fight for their right to party.
In legal proceedings this January, the Bamboo Grille suggested a settlement just crazy enough to work: build a 10-foot-tall berm (essentially a pile of dirt shaped sort of like a wall), hold a concert, and measure just how noisy it is from the residences of the aforementioned complaining bores. The township, likely being party animals themselves, agreed. Two sound tests are scheduled: the first this Saturday with the acoustic duo, and the second on June 16th with the jazz trio. The Grille has a lot riding on these tests. Along with the cost of constructing a 10-foot mound of earth, the bar claims that revenues during the musicless year of 2011 were down $150,000 (though I suspect that, being located on the grounds of a country club in small town NJ during the deepest valley of a recession may have had something to do with it, not to mention the fact that this bar seemingly only serves wine).
I’m used to reading dollar amounts and seeing apologies or restitution handed out in legal settlements, so this avenue towards an actual solution and compromise is surprising at the least. The bar gets to party on, the residents get to eat milk toast and sleep in peace, and everyone is happy. That is, if the test works out. I have a feeling the residents are going to feel the music like a phantom limb no matter what the tests say, and complain to the town soon enough. That’s just what buzzkills do. I’d check out the concert myself in the interest of journalistic integrity, but I can’t really justify spending a full Saturday night drinking wine to acoustic music on a golf course as a hip young 23-year-old with an empty wallet.