GRAFTON TWP. — The Jailhouse Taverne is taking to social media in its battle against township trustees regarding a noise resolution it says is trying to prevent it from having outdoor concerts, but some residents feel the business is bullying the township.
On Tuesday, The Jailhouse Taverne issued a statement on its Facebook page, which it called “our official statement on the matter for anyone who has a question in the media.” The owners of the business have declined interview requests from The Chronicle-Telegram.
“As Grafton Township’s largest employer and tax contributor, we are saddened that our local trustees appear to be targeting our business in this manner,” the statement said. “We have spent a considerable amount of money to resurrect our building into one of the nicest restaurants and entertainment locations in the state.”
On Sept. 12, the trustees passed a noise resolution that bans any noise, such as live music, that can be heard 100 feet from the property from which the sound is emanating. Trustees have said that the resolution was a direct result of complaints about The Jailhouse Taverne.
One local resident who lives near The Jailhouse Taverne said the noise coming from the outdoor venue was unbearable at times.
“It starts on Thursday night, around 7 or 8 p.m., and it goes until 10 or 10:30 p.m., sometimes,” Anna Dattilo said. “It goes Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I’ve come home from work, and I just want to relax. I shut all the doors and windows in the house, and (the sound is) still coming through the front windows. I can tell you the words to the songs. That’s how loud it is.”
Dattilo said her family has lived in the township for many years and was very excited about the renovations the owners of The Jailhouse Taverne did to the property.
“We knew they were going to have bands,” Dattilo said. “We went there to eat and saw the stage and thought, ‘Oh, this is great. This is wonderful.’ We never had any idea of what it was going to turn into. I could have a party at my house and use them as background music, that’s how loud it is.”
Derek Richards, another neighbor, said it’s not that the residents want to see the business fail.
“We’re looking for a compromise and quiet,” Richards said. “It is excessive to walk outside on a Sunday afternoon and want to sit on your front porch and enjoy the day with your family at your home but have to listen to another band play.”
Richards said at the end of September, there was a 10-day stretch of bands that he believes was hosted to get back at neighbors and the township for changing the noise ordinance. According to Richards, the band that played Sept. 28 would stop in the middle of playing and scream, “(Expletive) the neighbors!”
“They need to stop portraying themselves as the victim and that the trustees are specifically targeting their business,” Richards said. “The neighbors had their homes first. They have taken our freedom away when we want to put our children to bed at 8 p.m. on a school night and can’t keep their windows open, and sometimes even hear the music while their windows are closed.”
Dattilo said she was nervous to speak out against the business because she is afraid there could be repercussions on her family’s property. She said she wanted to give the residents’ side of the story, though, after seeing a series of advertisements The Jailhouse Taverne has taken out in a local weekly newspaper.
“They’ve flipped it on us that they have all these rights, but they’re infringing on our rights,” she said. “You would never get away with that in North Ridgeville. You’d never get away with that in Grafton village. You wouldn’t get away with that in Elyria, but because this has always been a kind of sleepy farm community, you come in here and don’t like dealing with any of the zoning.
“They keep saying that they’re being persecuted, but they’re the ones bullying us.”
Grafton Township Trustee John Kasinec said the passing of the noise resolution was about protecting the residents’ rights.
“The real issue about all of this is the disturbance that it made to common residents — just everyday folks that live near there — and how it affected their families on a nightly basis,” Kasinec said. “Children don’t stay up until midnight. Young kids go to bed at 8 or 9 p.m., or even 7 p.m., sometimes. If your house is shaking from music, you can’t get the kids to sleep.”
Kasinec also said he has a problem if residents want to have a barbecue at their home on a Saturday afternoon but can’t carry on a conversation because the music is so loud down the street.
“That’s what we’re trying to protect: the rights of all those people,” he said. “We’ve got nothing against the owners of that establishment.”
Kasinec said he has eaten at The Jailhouse Taverne four or five times since it’s been open.
The Jailhouse Taverne says in its statement that it has the support of the township’s residents.
“In response to the trustees who we feel have so blatantly crossed the line with this ridiculous noise ordinance, we have taken to the power of the crowd on social media to see if residents agree with us or them,” the statement said. “The results speak for themselves. Fact: There are just over 2,700 people who live in Grafton Township (and) 1,628 people have signed our online petition (at the time of this posting) entitled ‘Change Grafton Township Noise Ordinance so the Jailhouse Tavern can have Concerts’ in hours after posting on Facebook.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of ‘signatures’ on the online petition was around 2,500. Anyone, though, can sign the petition on change.org; it doesn’t matter if they are a resident of Grafton Township or not.
In addition, The Jailhouse Taverne is holding an ‘Election Night Party,’ according to its Facebook page. The description of the event says: “Vote no on Grafton Township Trustees Carl Wesemeyer and John Kasenic. Then join us for a celebration as we watch the election results together.”
Wesemeyer and Kasenic are both seeking re-election Nov. 7.
Dattilo said she thinks the trustees are wrongfully being attacked by The Jailhouse Taverne.
“They’ve just been picking on the trustees unmercifully,” Dattilo said. “The trustees are just doing their job, because we’ve been calling the trustees about the noise. We have no recourse except to say to the trustees, ‘Can you help us out?’”
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