Federico Santi, representing The Historic Hill Association Board of Directors address Newport City Council on a requested variance proposed by The Newport Yachting Center to extend hours of operation for an upcoming comedy night from 9:30 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Dan Summner representing the abutting Harborview Condo Association (Paul Callahan, President) spoke as did condo residents Mr. and Mrs. James Head. Mr. Santi turned in a detailed letter reviewing the entertainment licenses from the inception in 1998 with specific references by The Yachting Center for their “Sunset Music Festival”: “Gates would be open at 5:30 p.m. and all music will stop by 9:30 p.m.” “The ‘Sunset Music Festival’ will only take place on weeknights. There will be no Friday, Saturday, or Sunday dates.” “We will not hire entertainment that is typically loud, i.e. heavy metal rock and roll or reggae music”. Sixteen years later: there are now 16 reggae, rock and heavy metal concerts scheduled weekends, noise levels have risen to an intolerable level impacting the abutting condo residents and Hill residents as well. Interim Chair, Naomi Neville proposed a compromise ending the comedy entertainment at 10:30 p.m. instead of 11:15 p.m. When the final vote was taken, Naomi Neville, Jean Marie Napolitano and Michael Farley voted in favor of the variance while Justin McLaughlin and Kate Leonard voted against the variance. Harry Winthrop and Marco Camacho were on a City of Newport sponsored visit to Shimoda Japan. Justin gave an excellent impassioned reason for denying the waiver. So the compromise in reality compromised the quality of life for the abutting Condo residents and hundreds of Historic Hill residents as well. When the renewal for all entertainment licenses came up for vote, The Vice-Chair Naomi Neville did not ask for comments from the floor and quickly moved to vote for blanket renewal for all applicants including the Newport Yachting Center. The objectors to the Newport Yachting Center variance were expecting to be able to address their concerns about the general concerns about The Yachting Center but were in reality were blindsided by the council chair and were not able to speak. And so it goes in Newport, politics as usual.
Board Members met with City Manger Jane Howington, to discuss a variety of issues of concern to our neighborhood: Noise Ordinance Enforcement, more visible police presence on The Hill, Graffiti, Residential Parking, Gas Lights, Short-Term Rentals. Our main concern regarding to Noise Enforcement is limited number of zoning staff available during weekend nights to manage this continuous struggle, and without the authority to write citations on the spot, they have to call in and wait for a Police Officer to respond. Police presence on foot or bike during weekend nights could also be of assistance. The City Manager is aware of the problems and has some ideas to tackle the issue. Our Council Member Kate Leonard also attended the meeting, and suggested we initiate a “Community Call for Action” in cooperation with other Neighborhood Associations, to increase our voice. These “Quality Of Life Initiatives” are goals of many among us. HHA will continue to follow-up on these and other issues discussed!