Town of East Greenwich sued by BLU on the Water

BLU on the Water, a popular spot in East Greenwich, is now suing the town for recent changes made to the sound ordinance. 

The Town of East Greenwich is being sued by local restaurant BLU on the Water, over the recent amendments made to the town’s sound ordinance.

The ordinance, passed in November of 2019 made several changes to what level of noise is acceptable and at what times. Under the newly amended ordinance, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are all designated as “quiet nights,” and venues will have to cope with turning the volume down at 10 p.m. on those nights. Such a provision existed already for Mondays and Tuesdays, but the inclusion of Wednesday, a popular service industry night at some venues, is new. Additionally, the new ordinance lowers the maximum allowed noise levels from 65 to 60 dBa and from 75 to 65 dBc, which are decibel types that measure regular ambient and bass sounds, respectively.

“We are very happy to have this done,” said town council president Mark Schwager at the time of the ordinance's passage. “We did our due diligence and got input from the community. We had input from residents, businesses and our acoustic expert, and we put together something we thought was a good compromise. Something that will let residents enjoy themselves and ensure that businesses can be successful.”

However, attorney for BLU, Jeff Gladstone submitted the complaint in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island earlier this week. The complaint alleges that the new sound amendment singles out BLU on the water with “different, more restrictive, treatment than every other business located in a Commercial Highway zone in town.”

The complaint further alleges that the town’s treatment of BLU is unconstitutional, and the ordinance “makes it impossible to run long-standing, allowed commercial uses in the waterfront Commercial Highway district within these restrictive limits.”

In an email, Gladstone wrote that he and his clients feel they have no other option and that the ordinance is unreasonable.

“No one is questioning the Town’s ability to impose reasonable and consistent regulations and ordinances,” he said, “but, when an ordinance is selective, unreasonable/unattainable and punitive, and will prohibit the very business that is permitted in a commercial zone (as is the case with the impact of East Greenwich’s new sound ordinance on BLU’s property that is zoned commercial highway ) the regulation becomes illegal, ultra vires and unconstitutional.”

The complaint also notes that BLU has never been cited for violating a town ordinance.

This is a developing story and will be expanded upon as information comes in.

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