Noise Curfew Throws Wrench in Festival Plans

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For nine years, the Ideat Village Arts and Music Festival has been rocking out at Pitkin Plaza in New Haven but festival organizers say a noise curfew will put a cramp in their style this year.

On select nights, festival organizers will have to cut back live band performances by more than two hours, from 10 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.. which is something they are not happy about.

"Two weeks before our festival, we received notice that they were cutting our time to 7:45 p.m., our amplified noise restriction back to 7:45 p.m., back from what the usual 10 o'clock time was," festival organizer Bill Saunders said. "This is an arbitrary decision that City Hall is trying to force down our throats."

Events affected include a fashion show at 7 p.m. on June 15. The event is planned to go to 10 p.m., but organizers can only use a microphone until 7:45 p.m. The ordinance will require organizers to eliminate two hours of programming from the "Starry Sky Presents" on June 16 the Cirque du Papier on June 23, the Bike-a-Go-Go With the Clams on June 24 and the Big Finale on June 25.  

The policy has been in place for awhile and is enforced if there are complaints from neighbors, New Haven's Chief Administrative Officer, Rob Smuts, said.

"We have a set of guidelines for the three plazas downtown, Temple Plaza, Pitkin Plaza and Millennium Plaza, and all of them say that amplified noise is permitted up to 8 p.m. and it can go to 10 p.m. if none of the adjacent businesses or residences object," Smuts said.

In past years, no one has objected, Smuts said, but people from the new 360 State Street residential building didn't want the extended hours.

"This is built with soundproof windows, none of the windows open. This is an old building with sash windows. Were those people ever canvassed?" Saunders said.

The festival has created a petition, which has more than 600 signatures from people who are protesting the noise curfew. The city is willing to compromise, but only by offering up Millennium Plaza -- across the street from Pitkin Plaza -- free of charge.

"We have to accommodate all uses. We think we have a way of doing that with minimal inconvenience to anybody," Smuts said.

The event features local bands, local artwork and two weeks of family-friendly activities. It is scheduled for Saturday, June 11 through Saturday, June 25.  

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