March 19, 2019
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Rockland pulls pub’s entertainment permit because of ‘egregious’ violations

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
The Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery lost its bid Monday night to get a renewal of its entertainment license after Rockland City councilors learned of reports of repeated noise and liquor violations.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The City Council refused Monday night to renew an entertainment license for a downtown pub, saying repeated noise and liquor violations were egregious.

The owner of the bar told the BDN on Tuesday, however, that he wants a good relationship with his neighbor and looks forward to working with her and the city to come up with a solution to their concerns.

The councilors voted 4-1 to reject the entertainment license for Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery. The pub’s owner, Daniel Pease, said Tuesday he would reapply to the council at its June 8 meeting.

The council took no action Monday on Rock Harbor’s liquor license and had no objection to administrative staff extending the liquor license for 30 days. The debate centered on the entertainment license, which has allowed live bands to perform at the venue.

Councilor Valli Geiger said Pease has made no attempt to be a good neighbor.

“His behavior has been egregious,” Geiger said.

The vote came after councilors received reports from the Police Department and code enforcement officer and heard a plea from a woman who is an abutter to the downtown pub.

Pease did not attend Monday’s hearing. He said Tuesday that he had child care problems and could not attend.

During Monday’s session, Beth Bowley, who owns the neighboring building, said disruptions from the pub have caused her to lose rental revenue from the apartments she owns. Bowley lives on the top floor of the adjacent three-story brick building and rents two other apartments as well as space for businesses on the street level.

Bowley said she has tried to work with Pease for the past three years but all she has received are false promises and dismissive responses.

She said patrons congregate outside the establishment and create disturbances. She said they urinate outside, and cigarette butts need to be cleaned up every day. She said the noise from live bands is so loud that the floors at her adjoining building shake.

Bowley purchased her building in 2006 and said she has made significant investments in upgrading the building. She said when she purchased the property, the Black Bull was located in the Rock Harbor space and had music but not live, amplified bands that performed on the side of the pub adjacent to the shared wall of the two buildings.

The code officer said he has responded to complaints of noise by Bowley and his measurements found that the noise limits were being exceeded on multiple occasions. He said violations often occurred when the doors to the pub were propped open.

Geiger said the police report was fairly disturbing and serious, pointing out there were multiple pages of police complaints.

Pease said Tuesday that it was unfair to blame Rock Harbor for people gathering, smoking or urinating outside because they are not necessarily patrons from his business.

There was one report from police on May 2 of Pease being at the bar after it had closed, consuming alcohol and, by his own admission, being intoxicated, which is a violation of his liquor license. The owner told police he did not know some of the rules he needed to comply with to keep his license, according to the report. The deputy police chief stated in a letter to the council that any renewal of the liquor license should be accompanied by a requirement that Pease attend a training class on serving liquor.

Councilor Larry Pritchett said that the ability of people to live, work and play in close proximity to the downtown makes Rockland what it is. He said that is at risk when one party is not adhering to ordinances and regulations.

MacLellan-Ruf agreed. She said Rockland wants a mixed-use downtown and along Tillson Avenue.

“This is a precedent-setting case,” MacLellan-Ruf said. “If we encourage mixed use, we need zoning to be in place and to enforce and respect that zoning.”

Pease said Rock Harbor, which employs 15 to 20 workers, is a good business and a positive place to be.



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