Lower Burrell restaurant's noise subject of Liquor Control Board hearing

| Thursday, April 17, 2014, 1:26 a.m.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will decide next month whether Mogie's Restaurant and Irish Pub in Lower Burrell can continue with outdoor entertainment and under what conditions.

The board held a public hearing on the issue Wednesday at the bar, at the intersection of Leechburg and Wildlife Lodge roads.

The bar's owner, Dave Magill, has recently come under fire there by the board and residents upset about the noise produced by bands on the outdoor patio.

Mogie's has outdoor entertainment until 1 a.m. on about a dozen weekend nights every summer, according to Magill.

Lower Burrell Solicitor Steve Yakopec represented the city Wednesday in support of Magill's business. City Council has supported Magill since February when it petitioned the LCB to exempt him from potential license violations and allow the city to enforce its own noise ordinance at the bar instead.

The liquor board sent a letter to Magill months earlier, warning that he'd be in violation of his liquor license if the outdoor entertainment continues.

According to state law, the board withholds the right to “examine complaints by neighbors involving loud music or entertainment by amplification or noise emanating from the establishment.”

Since Magill began hosting outdoor bands in 2007, the bar has received 10 noise complaints within a half-mile radius, police Chief Tim Weitzel said. None of the complaints, which most frequently came from nearby Dorothy and Wachter streets, prompted police to issue a citation, he said.

Per Lower Burrell's petition to the LCB, the department has agreed to adopt a protocol to police the situation. If the LCB rules in favor of the city, the officers would report directly to the residence from which the complaint was issued, Weitzel said.

Should the officers determine at their discretion that the complaint is valid, they'll issue a warning to Magill.

Should either the bar owner or the person responsible for the band fail to comply with the request to lower the volume, they would be cited with disorderly conduct.

“We use our own judgment in each situation based on the hour and the noise level,” Weitzel said. “Most of the complaints have come after midnight. But when we ask (Magill) to turn it down, he does.”

There were no residents at Wednesday's hearing to express concern about noise.

However, John Fraker, the LCB's attorney, cited comments made at a Lower Burrell Council meeting in February by a Dorothy Street resident. According to the council's meeting minutes, the resident told council that he must shut all his windows and turn up the volume to hear the television in his house when the music is playing.

“Would you consider that a reasonable noise volume, coming from a house no less than 1,500 feet away,” Fraker rhetorically asked John Mulroy, the state's hearing adviser who oversaw the proceeding.

Yakopec told Mulroy that Lower Burrell would consider buying a decibel reader to properly quantify and enforce noise that exceeds normal levels.

The city, he said, would settle for an earlier cutoff time for performances.

Magill objected to the idea during his testimony, stating that earlier performance times yield less profit.

Maximizing profits for the city's businesses, Yakopec said, is the main reason Lower Burrell Council initially got involved.

“We just want what's best for our businesses here in Lower Burrell,” Yakopec said. “Ten people out of 12,000 over seven years isn't that great of a number.”

Magill submitted to the board a petition purported to have 113 signatures, including residents from Dorothy and Wachter streets, in support of the outdoor music. He said he needs the performances to keep up with surrounding businesses.

The LCB must render its ruling by May 23.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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