By Thomas D’Agostino Patriot Correspondent
Just when you thought it was not safe to go back towards the water of Webster Lake, a public hearing on the issue of noise and evening concerts by Indian Ranch reached an achievable compromise.
More than 40 residents attended the Webster Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night to either listen or express their opinion on the noise issue and weekend concert times that has had nearby residents twisting and shouting over the past year. Opinions and emotions were mixed with regard to noise levels and time frames of concerts at the Ranch.
Brian Dunn addressed the board stating that the noise was overwhelming and the residents of the lake and surrounding area have a right to solitude. Richard Franas then took his place at the podium to speak. Mr. Franas was concerned about the noise and frequency of the shows at the venue; stating that in the four years he has lived on the lake, the noise levels have increased. “I do not think they should have concerts anytime they want.” he said.
When Board Chairman Walter Ricci asked what he would like the board to do, Mr. Franas commented that the residents did sign a petition for “it to go back to the way it (license and regulations) was before.”
Paul Fenuccio came before the board to speak his piece. Mr. Fenuccio was in favor of the venue, stating that Indian Ranch works very hard to maintain the property and crowd control during events. “I think it is a great asset to our town.” he said. When asked how close he lives to the ranch, Fenuccio answered, “There is a stockade fence that separates us.”
Lisa Fenuccio was in agreement with her husband. “I do not have a problem with the noise. It is an asset to the town and brings revenue.” Mrs. Fenuccio said.
Others were not so favorable of the noise. Ed Jarmolowicz, who has lived 500 feet south of the venue since 1982 stated, “It is like being next to a stone crushing factory.”
Mr. Jarmolowicz went on to cite that the problem has only been prevalent since the new owner Mr. Robert took over.
Lindsey Craver complained of the late night noise and the flashing lights from the light shows during the concerts. Robin Craver was in favor of a “happy medium” in regard to the shows and the residents. Both complained that the shows are much louder than in the past, run longer and are more frequent. Robin Craver also stated that the ranch is a commercial business in a residential zone that had been “grandfathered in.”
The board was sympathetic to both sides in a search for an amicable compromise. Chairman Ricci stated, “It is a business in Webster. We don’t want to hurt the business but we understand what the residents of the lake are going through.”
Indian Ranch had 24 scheduled events for 2011. There were a total of 6 night shows, one of those being a police fund-raiser.
Suzette Raun, president of Indian Ranch, also spoke to the board. She said she had spoken with the previous owner and had found that there was more activity under his ownership than at present. Last year 22,000 ticket holders came to Webster to enjoy the shows at the Ranch. Raun also stated that these ticket holders ate at restaurants and bought goods at local stores, generating revenue for the other business owners in Webster. “I don’t think that is business you want to lose.” Ms. Raun said.
It was the recommendation of the board to limit the night shows to six, with no back-to- back Friday/Saturday night shows. Ms. Raun agreed to try and start the evening shows by 7:30 p.m. and be finished between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday shows run until about 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. According to the complaints, day shows have not been an issue. In regard to weeknight shows, it was made clear that Indian Ranch is not looking to expand into a weeknight venue.
“Indian Ranch likes to be here,” Ms.Raun said.
Noise complaints rolled in during the Los Lobos concert. Grand Funk Railroad was playing at the Ranch and the venue received a call for a complaint before the show had started.
Selectman Jeffrey Duggan stated, “If we are going to stay friendly on both sides we have to zero in on the volume.”
Selectman Donald Bourque suggested, because the concerts are seasonal, to review the season in December to see what may need to be modified in the best interest of both parties. Ms. Raun stated that she needed a season to work with the residents, selectmen and police in order to achieve a successful medium on all sides.
A suggestion for a small representative group to meet with Indian Ranch to voice any praises or concerns was brought up and three residents, Richard Franas, Lindsey Craver, and Brian Dunn volunteered to represent the residents in roundtable discussions on keeping an amicable and working relationship with the venue.
Proposed changes included a 10:00 p.m. curfew, facing the speakers towards the building instead of over the lake, six evening shows for the season, no Friday and Saturday night shows in one weekend, considering Karaoke as a concert, clarification that if there are multiple concerts on a weekend only one would be a night show and have a schedule available for the residents to plan accordingly.
Secretary Duggan stated, “This is going to have to be the year that we keep the… reins tight and let you prove to the residents that you can control the volume of the concerts, and next year you can expand because it won’t be as noisy.”
The board voted in agreement to the results of the hearing.
Also on the agenda was the Board of Health recommendation to appoint Nancy Zecco as a replacement for Loretta Scott Walker. Chairman Ricci was pleased with the appointee stating, “She is very talented. Hopefully, in May she will run again.”
The issue of choosing the Government Insurance Commission plan over the existing private plan was also addressed. The board voted for the ratification of vote accepting MGL 32B sections 21-23 of the GIC. The vote would make the town eligible for review of the plan where Webster could have the option to change from the present private plan to the GIC plan. Tim Moran of the Police Union Local 428 and Linda Millet of the Teacher’s Union came before the board to voice their opinions on the proposal. Both were in opposition as the cost of premiums and deductibles would be more under the new plan.
Chairman Ricci stated that even though town officials and employees may have higher premiums and deductibles, the GIC plan would be in the best interest of the town as the present economy has put heavy constraints upon the town budget. He went on to state that under the present plan, there would have to be further layoffs to pay for the town’s health insurance program.
Town Administrator John McAuliffe, who has been working on the health insurance issue for the past year stated to both Mr. Moran and Ms.Millet that the move to GIC is now needed more than ever. Webster is guaranteed about $450,000 a year in new tax levy money under Proposition 2 1/2. The health insurance number can go up from $400,000 to $500,000 a year. “So one item, health insurance, takes away all of the tax levy increase. It’s a system that’s broken and this is part of the mechanism to correct that…” Mr. McAuliffe said.
He went on to add, “This is a tool that is necessary for the Town of Webster to maintain stability; which has been my number one goal in three years, to bring stability to this town.” Mr. McAuliffe also went on to say, “This a mechanism that is going to be necessary to make sure that you retain your employment here; this is not a threat, that’s just the math…that’s just the reality of this. If we are going to be a sound fiscal organization we have to address health insurance.”
The board ratified the vote. For more information go to Tufts Navigator.
DPW Director J.T. Gaucher addressed a regional storm water grant. The board voted to sign the application and then signed the application.
A town meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 13.
- Tuesday, 10 January 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News