Chomp restricted to acoustic music after neighbors complain

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 6/18/24

Chomp Kitchen and Drinks was granted approval to allow musicians to play outdoors at their Water Street establishment seven days a week from 2-8 p.m. – but with one big caveat. No amplification allowed.

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Chomp restricted to acoustic music after neighbors complain


Chomp Kitchen and Drinks was granted approval to allow musicians to play outdoors at their Water Street establishment seven days a week from 2-8 p.m. – but with one big caveat.

No amplification allowed.

The decision came during the Warren Town Council’s meeting last week, where Chomp owner Sam Glynn returned following the expiration of a three-month probationary license to pilot an outdoor music program at the restaurant, which the council had granted in March.

Glynn said that the restaurant had been hosting musicians weekly on Sundays from 2-5 p.m., and in the past few weeks had added another outdoor music session on Wednesday evenings from 5-8 p.m. He asked to continue with that same schedule moving forward as it had garnered a positive response from restaurant patrons.

But not all were happy with the situation over the trial period, with multiple neighbors making the argument that the music was disruptive.

“I can assert that the volume of the music has been not only objectionable but abusively loud and inconsiderate of persons in the neighboring homes,” wrote Fletcher and Mary Rawls, residents at 296 Water St., in an email to the council expressing their objection of the license being renewed. “Your tax paying residents of Water Street are begging for the right to peaceful and quiet enjoyment of our properties.”

No actual violations of noise ordinance
Chief Roy Borges of the Warren Police Department confirmed that during the trial period, police responded to Chomp exactly one time as a result of a noise complaint. When they did, the noise level recorded was 61 decibels, under the limit of 75 decibels as outlined in Warren’s noise ordinance.

David Oliveira, who owns 302-304 Water Street, across the street from the Town Wharf and half a block away from Chomp, wrote in his own testimony to the council that the decibel readings were beside the point.

“I am a CPA and am very much pro-business, but my stance has always been that in mixed use areas such as Water Street, everyone’s rights must be considered. No one’s rights should be trampled on to give rights to someone else,” he wrote. “This is a very dense area with a few businesses sharing a relatively small area. So, we can bicker back and forth about how many decibels of noise et cetera, but the reality is that in such a small area with so much density, the noise will disturb those who live in the immediate vicinity.”

Jan Reitsma, a Washington Street resident located in close proximity to the wharf, concurred that decibels don’t mean anything compared to the actual living experience of being near the music when it’s happening.

“That’s not imagined. It’s actual, and sometimes it feels like harassment,” he said. I know that’s not intentional, but when you’re sitting in your house and you can’t really read peacefully or whatever, something has to be done.”

Councilman Joe DePasquale, who said he identified with Glynn’s desire to provide the best experience for his customers, said he was inclined to defer to the feelings of those neighbors who were aggrieved enough by the issue to actually come forward.

“If this was something inherent with your business, like the smell of burgers, as an actual example, I would say he has the right to cook burgers,” DePasquale said. “But the sound of music playing? You don’t need music to be outside, and that’s where I’m coming from. Because I like you, I like what you’re doing, and maybe down the road something will change. But right now, it’s too loud for the neighbors.”

Glynn said he was willing to accept whatever decision the council made, but was hopeful they’d consider extending the license as is.

“We’re not coming in with AC/DC trying to make things more difficult for people,” he said. “I think we’ve done everything we can to be as neighborly to people that live there, that have businesses there, that work there, while trying to also appease folks that come to eat.”

Ultimately, the council was able to agree on a compromise – that Chomp could have outdoor music entertainment from 2-8 p.m., seven days a week if they wanted to, but without any amplification allowed.

“We are trying to compromise and do what is best for everybody included,” said Councilwoman Keri.

The council agreed to revisit the issue again in three months at the September meeting.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.