Filomena’s receives approval to continue music
Waterford — After more than a year of noise complaints, zoning violations and an appealed permit, a local restaurant was granted permission to permanently continue playing live music twice a week.
The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday night in favor of Michael Buscetto’s application for accessory outdoor dining with music at his restaurant, Filomena's, on Boston Post Road.
Karen Barnett and Ken Petrini did not vote in favor of the application due to issues with the proposed site plan and differing interpretations of the regulations, commission Chair Greg Massad said.
“I’m just grateful that people see what we’re trying to do here: create a vibrant environment so people have an outlet to go to to enjoy some great food and some great entertainment,” Buscetto said Wednesday.
What started as a way to keep a "safe outside venue" during the COVID-19 pandemic turned into a 13-month-long saga.
Last year on October 20, town Zoning Official Jill Pisechko issued an abatement order to Filomena's for violation several zoning regulations. Buscetto appealed, but his appeal was withdrawn, and the abatement order was no longer relevant when he was granted a permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals under the Temporary Outdoor Entertainment regulation for 54 weekend dates spanning May 6 to Nov. 5 on Dec. 16.
Though it was a separate application process, Tuesday night’s decision effectively turned his temporary permit permanent.
The order stated that neighbors have complained to the Zoning Office about noise at the restaurant since May 2021.
In May 2022, two public hearings were held on two applications to amend he Temporary Forms of Outdoor Entertainment regulation, which allows entertainment in various forms on a temporary basis, and the Accessory Outdoor Dining regulation, which adds music as an accessory use to restaurants that have outdoor dining.
Resident William O’Donnell and his attorney Mark Kepple, who also represents an unspecified number of other residents, filed the applications in an attempt to remedy noise complaints from neighbors of the restaurant.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had 65 days from the date of the hearings to take action on the proposed amendments, and it did on July 12. Meeting minutes show the proposed amendment for the temporary forms of entertainment was unanimously denied in 4-0 vote, while the proposed amendment for the accessory outdoor dining regulation was denied 2-2. Tim Bleasdale recused himself from both votes.
Buscetto said he has received all of three complaints since May 2022, which he described as “mostly inquiries of what’s going on.” He credits the alterations he made, like pointing the speakers toward the building and limiting music to Fridays and Saturdays between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for the newly found peace.
He said he will keep those hours. The permit allows for the music from Thursday to Sunday until 9 p.m.
“We just adapted in the spirit of peacefully co-existing,” Buscetto explained. “Neighbors deserve to have that balance of a vibrant business but also they can go to bed at a reasonable time.”
“I never wanted to make a circus out of it,” he added. “I’m just trying to have some nice music along with our great menu.”
Buscetto went to the meeting equipped with a petition with a 1,000 signatures — “I showed up with 1,000 of my friends,” he said — but Massad said the petition did not sway the decision.
“Sure, we understand he had a petition, but we have a job to do that’s applying the regulations,” Massad said, explaining that the commission is an appointed board, not elected, so “it takes the politics out of it.”
Massad that as long as Buscetto “stays within the confines of the approval, then there’s no problem,” but added that the approval cannot stop residents from submitting complaints.
Buscetto is happy to keep his business up and running, with music.
“Honestly, I’m grateful for the town,” he said. “They’re really open for business, which is nice to see.”