Nearby market residents give Peters Council an earful about loud music

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Peters council members have put the kibosh on plans for outdoor entertainment at a new Giant Eagle Market District Express on Route 19 after nearby residents gave council an earful about middle-of-the-night noises that have kept them awake.

“We put up with a lot already,” said resident John Knabb, who played an audio recording that he made at 4:40 one morning at his Kimber Drive home of a loud noise from delivery trucks parked at the convenience store that opened in December. “The vegetation (around the building) is worthless” as a noise buffer, he said.

The issue came to a head at council‘‍s Monday meeting when the O’‍Hara-based grocery giant requested a special permit to play acoustical music on summer weekends on an outdoor patio. Neighbors turned out in droves and insisted that they weren‘‍t having it.

“Live music is not something the neighborhood wants,” Mr. Knabb said.  “We are avidly against outdoor live music.”

The first of its kind for the area, the Market District Express is an upscale but smaller version of its large grocery stores. The 15,500-square-foot store includes fresh produce, a restaurant, pharmacy and gas station that also sells beer and wine. The property formerly was home to an auto dealership.

Giant Eagle Marketing Director Adam Golomb said that although the permit application stipulated acoustic music, low-level amplification would be used for piano music during the summer music series, planned for 4-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 4 through Sept. 30.

Mr. Golomb said there would be unamplified guitar music and a mix of artists, including piano players, soloists and duets on an outdoor patio at the store.

“There will be no more than two people at a time” performing, he said. “We‘‍re being very respectful of our neighbors.”

But neighbors disagreed, including homeowner Mike Buczkowski, who said it will be impossible to rent his residential investment property with so much music wafting through the neighborhood on weekend nights.

“Giant Eagle shouldn’‍t have the right to infringe on my business abilities,” Mr. Buczkowski said. “I don‘‍t ask for special things. It’‍s going to hurt my business.”

The special permit is required for businesses in a commercial district, where outdoor entertainment is prohibited.

Mr. Golomb said the company plans to install canopies around the outdoor patio, and he defended the request to council.

“We believe there‘‍s an opportunity to increase our business on weekends, and customers have requested it,” said Mr. Golomb, who added that the store would be willing to drop the request for a piano amplifier if it would make a difference to neighbors.

Residents, including Pat Pajer, said they still opposed any outdoor music. Ms. Pajer said she already can hear music coming from inside the store.

“I could hear the Christmas carols loud enough to sing along with them in my kitchen,” she said. “It’‍s like an amphitheater. The last thing we need is more noise.”

Most of the residents said they had reluctantly accepted some of the noise and traffic disturbance from the new development but all opposed new outdoor music.

“We’‍re just asking you not to add to it,” resident Joseph Glover said.

Township Manager Michael Silvestri said he met recently with store managers about the noise complaints and hopes they soon will resolve the issue.

“We appreciated the opportunity to discuss the potential ways of creating a fun and engaging shopping experience while being respectful of those living in the surrounding communities,” said company spokesman Dick Roberts. “We will continue to work closely with local Peters Township officials to address all feedback from area residents to ensure we are best meeting their needs.”

Council members said residents‘‍ concerns had swayed them.

“I‘‍ve heard a couple of compelling arguments,” said Councilman Frank Arcuri. “I don’‍t know if this is the type of slope we want to go down.”

Peters Council members voted 7-1 to deny the permit. Councilwoman Meghan Jones-Rolla dissented.

Janice Crompton:  jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159.


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