Borough voters to decide on liquor referendum

New Wilmington already permits the sale of wine and beer at such places as the Fractured Grape Wine Cellars and Hop Asylum Brewing on South Market Street. A referendum on the May 22 primary election ballot would, if passed, also permit the sale of liquor in the borough.

Walt Novosel is turning down the volume at his wine bar.

Novosel told New Wilmington Borough Council members Monday that he was there to address noise complaints about his business, Fractured Grape. He recently relocated the 5-year-old establishment from 115 E. Neshannock Ave. to 138 S. Market St.

Fractured Grape has long offered music on Friday and Saturday nights, but the noise was not an issue until the business relocated to the center of town, he said.

After neighbors complained about noise levels, Novosel said he shut the garage door, moved the band to the front of the building and spoke with police chief Carmen Piccirillo.

Although the borough has no noise ordinance, Novosel said he has done research and noted that acceptable nighttime decibel levels are 55 to 65 but acceptable daytime noise levels are 65 to 75.

"We did decibel readings every half hour to see they do not exceed 55," he said.

Novosel said he has also changed the music schedule to only acoustic guitars.

"Last Saturday, I checked with all the residents, They seem happy," he said. However, Novosel said, come January he would like to start scheduling bands again. "I told (residents) I'd give them a month notice," he said.

He said he has been cited and fined under the borough's disorderly ordinance because there is no noise ordinance.

"I'm not trying to be disorderly," Novosel stressed to council. "I'm trying to bring business to town and promote local businesses. I think we'll be all right. The neighbors seem cooperative."

He added that he also met with Councilman Morgan Boyd of the sanitation committee to resolve sanitation issues.

"We put protocols in place and now only water is going down drains now," he said.

Councilman John Geidner also presented a draft of the 2020 budget ,which he said is approaching $5 million with a $10,000 surplus carried over.

The borough, one of 33 municipalities in Pennsylvania that operates its own electric utility, does not impose a property tax.

Geidner said it has been several years since electric rates were raised, adding that the time might be approaching to consider adjusting those fees, but not this year.

Geidner said he presented the budget for others on council to review. Council is expected to adopt the spending plan at a special 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 meeting. If council accepts the plan, it will be placed on public review at the municipal building for 10 days and then will become official, he said.

Council also heard from Lee Ann Miller who said she is interested in filling the vacancy on council that will exist when Boyd resigns to become a Lawrence County commissioner.

Miller also expressed concern about unregulated Airbnbs, which are home-sharing operations that are cropping up in the borough.

She said one exists in her Neshannock Avenue neighborhood and renters come and go, disrupting the area. Since they are unregulated, there are no rules, Miller said.

"Anyone can set one up. I've seen people I don't know sitting on porches, looking into my house or garage," she said. "If I'd wanted to live next to a hotel, I'd have bought a house next to one. I didn't, yet that is where we are."

Borough solicitor Frank G. Verterano was authorized to investigate a possible regulatory ordinance.

In other business, council:

• Will compare garbage/recycling bids from Republic Services of Youngstown, Ohio, and Tri-County of Grove City. The bids, opened on Monday, will be reviewed by Verterano.

• Announced Westminster College has applied for a $1.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant for construction associated with a science facility expansion program. RACP is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. 

• Accepted the drawings for the Shenango SeniorCare building project.

• Agreed to upgrade borough ordinances regarding street reconstruction.

nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Nancy Lowry is a reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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