Complaints from St. John residents about noisy bars and restaurants in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay prompted a visit by Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Wayne Biggs and its enforcement and management team on Thursday, September 10.
“Violations were found at a number of bars and restaurants and those establishments were issued a warning by our enforcement team,” said Shayla Solomon, DLCA’s public information officer. “A lot of them have licenses, but they are operating outside of their license’s specific guidelines and restrictions.”
The Noise Pollution Control Act prohibits unreasonable, excessive and annoying noise levels in the territory and maintains that all bars and taverns located within 500 feet of a school, church or residential area must be enclosed and soundproofed.
While bars and restaurants may be allowed to play music, each license specifies the type and volume of the music being played, Solomon explained.
“There are specific guidelines and restrictions; for example, a nightclub can have speakers and music, but it has to be enclosed and soundproofed,” she said. “You have to make sure that the license that you have correlates with how you are operating your business. And that is the big issue.”
Solomon said DLCA is not releasing the names of establishments issued warnings, but the department was scheduled to follow up with the venues the following week and issue citations for those which did not rectify the violations.
“These establishments have to rectify the violations or else citations will be issued,” she said, adding that names will be disclosed if citations are issued.
Solomon said she did not have a report on the follow-up visit and Biggs did not return calls by the time St. John Tradewinds went to press.
The DLCA crew travelled to St. John not only to get a first hand assessment of various complaints, but also to work toward establishing a greater presence on the island, particularly as it pertains to enforcement.
“There are a number of areas that need enforcement on St. John and our enforcement efforts are going to be improved,” Solomon said. “We will make it a weekly thing — to make regular visits to St. John, not only for enforcement, but to have a greater presence on the island.”
Thursday’s visit was the first phase of weekly trips that Commissioner Biggs and his enforcement team will be making to St. John.
Enforcement officials inspected St. John establishments for required documents and signs and to find out whether the establishments were operating within the scope of their license, according to a DLCA statement. Establishment owners also had the opportunity to meet with the commissioner to personally address issues and concerns.
Solomon reminded St. John residents that the DLCA has a lcoal office at the Battery.
“And we are working hard to get our Web site up and running so we can streamline the licensing process and people don’t have to worry about going to an office,” Solomon said. “It should be up and running by the end of this month or early October.”
DLCA reminds all bars, taverns, restaurants, and nightclubs of the following requirements: they must secure the correct license correlating with their operations; business licenses must be posted; signs prohibiting the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors must be visibly posted, and separate licenses are required for selling tobacco products and using coin operated pool tables and jukeboxes.