business before pleasure

My question is, where the heck is Newell Normand? And Chris Roberts is flat out wrong taking the side of the barrooms and not trying to work out a compromise between the bars and the property owners. Not to mention the threat to life if these bars are allowing their patrons to get stupid drunk, then get behind the wheel of a car.

I know one thing, I won’t be headed to Grand Isle anytime soon if this is how they “conduct business down there”. Newell Normand needs to pull the JPSO deputies stationed there if Grand Isle has their own police department.

NEW ORLEANS – Neighbors’ complaints about loud music from two bars in Grand Isle have escalated into allegations that elected officials and police are refusing to enforce the law. Some elected leaders, critics say, now plan to eliminate the complaints by gutting the law.

Neighbors complain two bars in Grand Isle, Daddy’s Money and Artie’s, have been violating Grand Isle’s noise ordinance. “You hear this boom, boom, boom – boom, boom, boom,” said Eddie Rispone, a camp owner. “And it vibrates through your house.”

The local law forbids amplified sound from going across a neighbor’s property line after 10 p.m. But some neighbors complain the music from these two bars has been so loud at times they can’t sleep. “Last weekend at 1:58 in the morning they blew me out of bed,” said Perre Villere, a neighbor of one of the bars.

A group of neighbors went to court to get restraining orders against the bars, and at the court’s urging, have worked out an agreement with Daddy’s Money. “Yes, last night was the only time I had an issue,” Rispone said. “They had the door open, had the bass playing.”

When Eyewitness News visited this past Friday, neighbors said both bars were quieter. But they’re afraid it’s temporary.

And they complain the response by the police and the mayor has been the worst part of all this. Villere said nothing happens when he calls the police. Neighbors say the police come out, sometimes get the bars to close their doors, but don’t make them turn down the music. “You’ve got a group of people that have taken an oath to uphold the laws,” Rispone said. “And they completely refuse to do so. And it’s caused us misery.”

They went to court against the police chief. “He was ordered to enforce the ordinance. He ignored the court’s ruling, and we have a contempt citation pending,” Villere said. When a friend of Rispone’s took a camera to a public council hearing to videotape it, the police chief tried to throw him out. Eventually the camera was allowed to stay.

Another time police tried to stop Rispone from shooting a camera from his front deck of the activity in public view at the Daddy’s Money. “We got a complaint that your god damned – don’t film me – take me off that camera,” said one officer as Rispone videotaped. Rispone said he doesn’t appreciate the way police are treating him. “They’re trying to intimidate us,” Rispone said.

Though Rispone and Villere say that while Grand Isle’s mayor and police have sworn to uphold an oath to enforce the law, they’re refusing to do that. “That’s no true. No sir,” said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle. The mayor said the police always respond when neighbors complain. “Any complaints that they had Dennis, we came back and my police chief made sure that he checked it out,” Camardelle said.

The neighbors say evidence of the public officials’ unwillingness to enforce the law is their plan to change it. “They are attempting to gut the ordinance,” Villere said.

Camardelle said council members are considering a proposal to change the ordinance. “If we have to change it and do the right thing, yes we do [need to change the ordinance],” Camardelle said. He confirms the proposal calls for moving the 10 p.m. curfew for loud music to 2 a.m. He said that Grand Isle is a tourist attraction.

“And now they got a couple of non residents that come in and move in town and want to change the laws,” Camardelle said. “And you know what? I’m going to stand here and tell you tonight that we’re going to make sure that we’re going to respect the laws and do the right thing.”

But the neighbors say the town leaders are the ones changing the law because they don’t want to enforce the current law. “The town takes the view that the camp owners are not equal citizens for whatever reason,” Villere said. “And we pay property taxes. We pay sales taxes. We pay fuel taxes. We buy bait, ice, drinks.”

“I respect my non-residents. I respect my residents,” Camardelle said. “These are businesspeople, and this barroom has been here as long as I’ve been a kid. This guy just built this camp over here.”

Rispone said he built what he describes as his million dollar dream home after Hurricane Katrina so his kids and grandkids could be together. “And now my family wont come here. They’re afraid for my wife and I,” Rispone said.

Villere said his wife’s family has owned this property for 80 years and had a camp here since soon after Hurricane Betsy. “And to gut a noise ordinance to take care of a couple of bar owners is just beyond the pale,” Villere said. “We don’t get it.”

Eyewitness News wanted to find out what the bar owners have to say about all this. At both Artie’s Bar and at Daddy’s Money the news crew was forcefully thrown out and denied an interview.

Neighbors say even more alarming than what’s happening on Grand Isle is an emergency ordinance that Chris Roberts pushed through the Jefferson Parish Council. It says town ordinances take precedence over parish law. He said, yes, it’s an effort to help businesses dealing with the noise ordinance.

“If somebody’s looking for a place to build a camp to try and get serenity then go and build by a lake,” Roberts said. “Our point is that Grand Isle in this area is very much like the French Quarter. It would be very much like somebody purchasing a home on Bourbon Street and expecting that it’s going to be quiet at night time. That’s not the case.”

Rispone said he doesn’t have the vocabulary to give you his reaction to that. He said it just smells. The Grand Isle City Council is expected to consider the proposal to change the noise ordinance at its next meeting on July 14.


~ by maringouin on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.

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