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Trustees, Jailhouse Taverne mending fences

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GRAFTON TWP. — After months of squabbling, The Jailhouse Taverne representatives and township trustees finally met face-to-face in a public forum, a meeting both sides are calling a step in the right direction.

The Grafton Township trustees held a special meeting Wednesday night after the attorney who represents the restaurant and music venue, Ben McKelvey, asked to discuss the township’s noise ordinance. McKelvey was joined by representatives of The Jailhouse Taverne, including Laz Tromler and Mike Roth.

The two sides went back and forth last year after The Jailhouse Taverne began holding outdoor music concerts on its property. Residents in the township began complaining to township officials about the noise levels coming from the performances.

The trustees eventually passed a new noise resolution that banned any noise or sound that is “plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet or more from the property from which the noise emanates.” Soon after, an employee at The Jailhouse Taverne, John Taylor, was issued a citation for “excessive noise” by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

“The second ordinance has some questionable language in it and was passed rather sudden,” McKelvey said. “The Jailhouse was not provided much notice, and before they knew it a member of their staff was hit with a violation.”

McKelvey said The Jailhouse Taverne hopes to be able to continue its summer music concert series by reaching some agreement on terms and conditions with the township.

Assistant County Prosecutor Tom Mangan said there is a pending case regarding the township’s noise ordinance in Elyria Municipal Court.

“We’ll see how that works out,” he said. “Maybe there will be some issues raised regarding the validity of that particular statute.”

The case Mangan was speaking of is Taylor’s, which is scheduled for a hearing before Judge Gary Bennett on Wednesday. The hearing has been pushed back multiple times.

Township Trustee Carl Wesemeyer said the township passed the new noise ordinance, which was based on one from Columbia Township, because the one the township had previously was rather vague.

“It was unable to be enforced very well, so we looked around different townships and looked at different resolutions others used,” he said. “We felt this would probably be a little more enforceable.”

Despite the differences, both sides expressed a desire to work out an agreement.

“I would love to work this out,” Wesemeyer said. “I thought we had worked this out last spring. Obviously, in my estimation, I think things changed drastically. We had to do something, and we did.”

McKelvey said The Jailhouse Taverne is willing to invest in technology and improvement that could help contain the sound to the venue’s property, but the owners would need assurance that they’ll be able to hold concerts if they make such investments.

The trustees asked the representatives of The Jailhouse to come back with some ideas of how the two sides could come to a compromise. McKelvey said they would do that.

The meeting hall was filled with residents of the township, some who sided with the trustees and others who sided with The Jailhouse.

One resident who claimed to live across the street from the restaurant said she was “astounded by the level of outrage” against the business. Others asked the trustees to keep the ordinance the way it is to keep The Jailhouse Taverne from holding any more concerts.

The two sides hope to hold further discussions in the near future.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.



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