If good fences make good neighbors, township officials are hoping that a berm constructed between the and neighboring households on Madisonville Road will be at least as effective at settling over noise from live bands at the restaurant.
Following the construction of a berm that extends between the immediately adjacent property and a golf course hole closest to Madisonville Road, the on Tuesday night approved another year's liquor license for the restaurant. This year's liquor license approval removes
The committee's unanimous approval on Tuesday was accompanied by a legal agreement also approved by Basking Ridge Restaurants, LLC, which also ownsat the Basking Ridge Country Club.
However, Township Committeeman John Carpenter explained afterward that the agreement for the next year is that any musicians or bands playing live at the establishment must use the approved "house" sound system rather than bringing their own amplifiers.
The agreement also called for construction of an earthen berm between the Basking Ridge Country Club property and the closest neighbor.
The requirement was for a landscaped earthen wall 10 feet high and five feet wide in some spots, but township officials said the actual berm is as high as 12 or 13 feet in some areas.
As per the agreement, two members of the Township Committee attended each of three "tests" with bands playing amplified music on evenings during May and June, the most recent being June 16.
Deputy Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said that while she was at one of the night's trial performances, the music seemed soft on the neighbors' side of the berm, while it was loud on the side that faced the Bamboo Grille restaurant and patio.
The agreement also states that the Bamboo Grille's entertainment will not exceed 80 decibel levels at certain locations, including a designated monitoring location by the outdoor Tiki bar on the patio.
Carpenter, who attended all three test nights, noted that the noise level on the neighbors' side of the berm is not silent. "But there was never any intention to make it silent."
However, he said that the level of background noise now should allow the neighbors to conduct their own lives without an "intolerable" level of sound coming from the nearby commercial establishment.
Officials also said the intent is that the Bamboo Grille and closest residents should try to work out any continuing differences following several years of disagreement.
On Wednesday morning, employees at the Bamboo Grille said that live music is expected to begin again on Friday and Saturday nights, from 7 to 11 p.m., and on Sundays from 3 to 6 p.m. Further information will be posted on the restaurant's website.
The legal agreement and officials at the meeting also noted that the agreement is subject to being reformed, based on how the next year turns out and whether the provisions can be enforced.
Township Committeeman Scott Spitzer approved the liquor license renewal, but he added that he didn't agree that the township should have added the condition in the first place, or have become involved in the disagreement between the neighbors and Bamboo Grille.
Such an agreement sets "a bad precedent," Spitzer said. He added that he does not believe that setting a specific decibel level is consistent with the township's existing nuisance ordinance. However, he said he did want to vote in favor of the Bamboo Grille's liquor license renewal.