GLOCESTER – A special request by Mulberry Vineyards, located in the residential area of Pound Hill Road in Glocester, for permission to hold a wedding reception brought numerous objections from those attending the Glocester Town Council meeting on Thursday, July 20.
“I don’t know why we’re here,” said Ed Gendron, who lives nearby, to members of the board. “We complain about the noise. It goes in one ear and out the other. You guys have to put a stop to this.”
The council originally granted a license to David Wright, the owner of the vineyard, to hold 19 events from 9-4, but barred the venue from having weddings and other events after 4 p.m. because of the residential location. At the council’s December 15, 2022 meeting the license narrowly passed with a 3-2 approval as a result of neighbors’ concerns at the time. Wright came before the council to request a special exception, allowing him to host a wedding on Saturday, August 5 from 4-9 for a local couple, who he said approached him only recently.
“The fact that they are coming back to apply for what was specifically denied in the original application just six months ago shows total disregard and disrespect for the council’s decision and their neighbors,” wrote resident Kevin Lavoie in a letter to the council. “I strongly suggest and encourage the council to stand by the decision already made.”
Wright explained that the couple had asked to have the wedding there, and he had said he was not licensed. They asked if he could go to the council and ask for approval.
“They live in town,” he told the council. “One is a fireman. The other is a nurse. They are all very good.”
He added that when he originally asked for the vineyard’s license in July 2022, he had asked for permission to have weddings. Though the location was not approved for events after 4 p.m., he said in that meeting it was given that they would seek special licenses for weddings in the future. The reception, he said, would be for approximately 50 people, including children and adults. He also added that they had held a wedding last year with little noise from a DJ.
“It did not interfere with any other business going on in the town or the neighbors,” he said.
Wright added that after the event he questioned a neighbor who told him that he, “didn’t hear a thing.” Others, he added, including some of the residents who were opposed to granting the special exemption, had said there was no problem.
Resident Harold Winstanley said he was afraid if this license were granted, other exceptions would be made also.
“What happens in another month?” asked Winstanley. “He’s going to come before and say you know what, I had one before and there was no problem. So, why can’t I have four or five little weddings? When does this end?”
Wright said he would do everything in his power to appease the neighbors.
The neighbors who attended the meeting, however, told a different story.
Gendron added that the local police have been called about noise complaints in the past, but were unable to do much, except ask to keep the noise down.
“That’s a residential neighborhood,” said Gendron. “It’s not a business.”
Resident Richard Pitisce argued that there is no decibel limit in town and as a result, there is no way to enforce a noise restriction.
“One policeman may say it is too loud,” he said. “The other one may say it’s not loud enough. It’s all a question of subjectivity.”
Pitisce added that, as a musician, he has used a decibel meter which records loudness. He said many towns have a limit of 61 decibels. When Wright, however, argued that he had a meter and that the venue never reached 61, Pitisce got out of his seat and approached Wright at the microphone while he was speaking, questioning if he had a meter or not.
“One at a time,” responded Town Council President William Worthy.
Wright assured Pitisce that he, in fact, had two. The multiple calls he had, he said, were false. The noise didn’t register high enough on the meters.
“The police said there was no violation of any kind,” Wright added. “They didn’t ask us to turn it down. They didn’t ask us to do anything. I think this is a bit exaggerated.”
“I don’t think any of us want these people not to have a business,” responded Pitisce.
He added that it might not be loud all of the time, but sometimes it was.
“We’d just like a little peace, that’s all,” said Pitisce.
His wife, Judith Pitisce, added that the people who live in the back of the area may not hear much, but those, like her and her husband who live near the road, can hear everything clearly.
“I can hear every single word they sing,” she told the council. “I walk around the neighborhood, I hear them. You can’t tell me it’s not loud. It’s very loud. We come up there for nice peace and quiet, and we get this.”
Councilors, reviewing the input and the previous decision made, saw no clear argument to allow the exception.
“I don’t see a compelling reason to change anything right now,” said Councilor Walter Steere.
Other councilors felt the same, with the exception of Vice President Stephen Arnold, who said he was hosting a small gathering at his own house soon, and that it would probably involve about 50 people. Having a similar event at the vineyard with the same number of people from 4-9, he said, did not seem like that big a deal.
“It doesn’t seem like a big traditional wedding hoopla,” said Arnold.
The council denied the request 4-1 with Arnold in favor of granting the exception.