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‘Neighbors Of IHOP Say Enough,’ Form N.O.I.S.E. Committee

Sandy Berger, a neighbor of IHOP, continues her journal chronicling the sights, sounds and smells of the restaurant that has outraged her and others in her building for the better part of a year. In today’s installment, Ms. Berger reveals the name of the committee they’ve formed to fight the “International House of Putrid Odors.”

bacon diaries

Monday, August 13, 2012
I stopped in at IHOP and asked to speak to Ed Scannapieco, the owner of the franchise. I was told by the day manager he wasn’t there. I gave her my telephone number and said I would appreciate hearing from him. I was just trying to find out what was going on. Naturally, I never heard from him, which is bothersome since he has said, “We want to be a good neighbor.” But I guess that doesn’t include talking to his neighbors! Read more…

‘Neighbors Of IHOP Say Enough: Save Our Senses’

And now, Sandy Berger continues to document the smells and sounds of the IHOP underneath her window. The restaurant installed a ventilator unit to dial down the bacon odors, but with noise levels up, Ms. Berger’s battle continues.

bacon diaries

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
An inspector came to my apartment and told me that since a violation had already been given they couldn’t serve another one until Sept. 10 when IHOP is due in “court” (he didn’t say which court, but did say that those making the complaints could not be present). This is just not right! We shouldn’t have to rely on the Department of Environmental Protection to describe the schizoid life we’re leading between smells and noise (in some cases, both at the same time); we should have the right to speak for ourselves without having to sue a major corporation.

Saturday, July 28
During a meeting of the ad hoc committee that’s been waging a war to regain our pre-IHOP quality of life, we visited each other’s apartments to understand how we each were affected. The people on the first two floors seem to be bothered by the noise more than smells. They can’t see the eyesore that has become the landscape for the upper floors, which seem to be affected by smells more than noise. The middle floors win the trifecta: they get them all, up close and personal. Read more…

IHOP Fined for Noise from Bacon Buster

Smog hogSandy Berger The ventilator unit.

After neighbors complained for weeks about the “constant roar” and “inescapable blare” of IHOP’s new ventilator unit, the restaurant on East 14th Street was issued a noise violation on Monday, the Department of Environmental Protection said.

The noise from the ventilator, which was installed after complaints about an unbearable smell of bacon, had caused neighbors to file at least four complaints with the DEP. On Monday, the restaurant was smacked with $560 in fines, said Ted Timbers, a spokesperson for the agency.

But neighbors will have to keep complaining before they can get their peace and quiet: Mr. Timbers said the DEP can’t serve IHOP with an order to cease and desist until it has been issued three separate violations, and the Environmental Control Board won’t make a ruling about the first one until Sept. 10.

Mary Beth Powers, a neighbor of the pancake house, felt the city wasn’t doing enough. “Factory restaurants like IHOP don’t belong directly beneath people’s homes,” she said. “The city is so worried about our health that they want to ban mega-sodas and cigarettes (ideas that have merit); I wish they would extend that concern to making sure that commercial establishments located in heavily populated neighborhoods don’t make those areas uninhabitable.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post referred to the ventilation unit as a “smog-hog.” That reference has been deleted since the term is a brand name and Smog Hog says that it did not manufacture the unit in question.

Noise at IHOP Under Investigation?


A neighbor of IHOP passes along word that last night someone was inspecting the new ventilator equipment and ventilator unit that several people said is making a loud mechanical hum around the clock. A Department of Environmental Protection inspector is also expected to check out the equipment today. Yesterday the owner of the restaurant said that the new machinery, which cost more than $40,000, may need some adjustments to alleviate the noise. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post referred to the ventilation unit as a “smog-hog.” That reference has been deleted since the term is a brand name and Smog Hog says that it did not manufacture the unit in question.

IHOP’s Bacon Waft Is Subdued, But Now the Noise Annoys

Sandy Berger The ventilation unit on the roof of IHOP.

Out of the bacon frying pan, into the din of the ventilation unit.

Earlier this month, neighbors of the IHOP on East 14th Street were thrilled when the smell of bacon was greatly reduced by a new ventilator unit on the roof of the restaurant. But the elation quickly gave way to frustration as they realized that the odor-eater causes an around-the-clock ruckus.

“It looks like a locomotive and sounds like a locomotive,” said Sandy Berger, who documented her life as an IHOP neighbor in The Bacon Diaries. Read more…

Air-Conditioned Nightmare Continues, Deli’s Neighbors Say

IMG_1771Sarah Darville Tommy McKean in the air shaft of his building.

This feud over an air conditioning unit certainly isn’t cooling off.

Employees of a Hamptons Market Place at 356 East 13th Street switched off power to their entire building this morning, leaving 16 apartments without electricity for about an hour. Outraged tenants said it’s only the latest disruption that has been inflicted on them by the deli, which installed an air conditioner and ventilator unit on the roof that has bothered them to no end.

The owner of the deli, who has grown weary of a year of noise complaints, is so fed up that today he raised the possibility of a harassment suit against the tenants.

“I can’t get a psychiatrist to come into their apartments but I wish I could,” the owner, Victor Nagi said, later adding, “The tenants are harassing me. They’re complaining every other day and getting me these fines.” Read more…

At Bar on A, a Familiar Scenario of Neighbor Versus Nightlife

Bar On ADaniel Maurer The bar at 170 Avenue A.

Once again, it’s neighbor versus nightlife: Bar on A is locked in a battle of wills with an upstairs tenant who has frequently complained to city authorities about what she says is “extreme noise.”

However, a person associated with the 17-year-old watering hole, which opened around the same time as the recently shuttered Lakeside Lounge, blames the neighbor for incessant complaints which he says have cost the establishment tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and even resulted in a police raid.

Mitch, an associate of Bar on A who did not want to be identified by his last name owing to the bar’s delicate situation, blamed the present conflict on “this nuisance neighbor who’s abusing the 311 system and recruiting people like a vigilante to hang us and hang everybody else in the neighborhood.” Read more…

With Looser Beer-and-Wine Rules, C.B. 3 Hopes to Repair ‘Infamous’ Reputation

taskforceNatalie Rinn Susan Stetzer points at documents as S.L.A.
committee chair Alexandra Militano leafs through them.

Before finalizing a controversial set of stipulations that would ease Community Board 3’s stance against new beer-and-wine licenses in nightlife-heavy areas – so long as applicants agree to close shop early – a task force decided last night to seek counsel from a higher power: the State Liquor Authority.

During a meeting at C.B. 3’s offices last night, District Manager Susan Stetzer said that the board should repair a feeling that it is particularly unbending, shared by applicants and the S.L.A. alike. “We have become infamous,” she said, explaining that applicants’ lawyers approach the S.L.A. and say, “C.B. 3 has a moratorium [on new licenses in resolutions areas], and it’s illegal” – a sentiment with which S.L.A. chair Dennis Rosen agrees, according to Ms. Stetzer. “We are losing respect and clout,” she said. Read more…

Burglars, Noise, and Money Boys: A Sit-Down With the Ninth’s New Commanding Officer

IMG_3074Stephen Rex Brown Captain John Cappelmann at the Ninth Precinct.

Captain John Cappelmann has taken over his new post as the top police officer in the East Village with a bang, arresting three men suspected of a string of nine middle-of-the-night robberies of local businesses as well as a series of apartment break-ins.

In a conversation with The Local that covered his previous experience policing public housing in Northern Manhattan, gang activity in the East Village and the challenges of quality of life enforcement, the new commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct shared a few more details about the bust.

“Burglaries are the biggest crime that we have here, grand larcenies notwithstanding,” Captain Cappelmann said in his office overlooking East Fifth Street. “We normally average about 16 for a 28-day period. So, that would be four a week on average from last year. Now to go almost three days since the arrest without any burglaries, I think we got the right people.”
Read more…

Data Shows Bars With Most Noise Complaints, But Is It Just Sound and Fury?

Recently released 311 complaint data reveals a veritable who’s-who in the neighborhood’s ongoing struggle with nightlife.

An analysis of commercial noise complaints submitted to 311 between January 2010 and October 16, 2011 finds that some familiar faces like La Vie, Sin Sin Lounge and Nublu are near the top of the list. The data, which represents the most recent 311 complaints available on NYC Open Data, shows that the undisputed champion of noise complaints in the East Village is Sutra Lounge. The hip-hop lounge had a whopping 265 complaints during the 22-month stretch — 116 more than the runner-up.

“We have the number one most vigilant neighbor, that’s what it really means,” said Ariel Palitz, the owner of Sutra and a member of Community Board 3. Read more…

Neighbors of New IHOP Say ‘No Relief’ from Smell of Bacon

Mary Beth Powers often awakes to the overwhelming odor of bacon wafting from the IHOP 11 stories beneath her apartment.

“There can be times at three or four in the morning when you feel like you’re in the kitchen with them,” said Ms. Powers, who lives on 15th Street. “There is no relief.”

The smell is at times so pungent, she said, that it clouds her thinking.

“It smells like rancid bacon. I just imagine it: a film of crap on my furniture, on my rugs, on my walls. I actually wonder, is this being soaked up in my apartment?” said an exasperated Ms. Powers. “Is it in my hair? Do I smell like IHOP now?” Read more…

Residents Sound Off to Police About 13th Step and Other Boisterous Bars

bar story 13th step beer specialSimon McCormack

During two separate meetings with representatives of the police department this week, East Villagers complained about noise caused by the 13th Step on Second Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets, with one resident comparing the sports bar to Sodom and Gomorrah. Last night, other bars – including the Village Pourhouse, Webster Hall, and Amsterdam Billiards – were also singled out as sources of fighting and noise.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Ninth Precinct Community Council, David Keller, who lives across the street from the bar, complained that “late at night, it transforms into a nightclub. There is a line winding down the street.” Lieutenant Patrick Ferguson described it as one of the most successful bars in the neighborhood. He said the police were well aware of the quality of life issues there, but that it passed a noise test by the Department of Environmental Protection on Sept. 17, so there wasn’t much he could do.

Last night, the bar came up again at a community forum at Webster Hall, meant to address ongoing nightlife problems around Second and Third Avenues.

A crowd of about 25 gathered at the nightclub to discuss heavy foot traffic, street noise, and drunken behavior in the northwest corner of the East Village on weekend nights. Webster Hall general manager Gerard McNamee, who began hosting bi-annual community forums about four years ago, moderated the conversation, which incorporated voices of neighbors across generations and representatives from popular bars on nearby blocks, including the Village Pourhouse and Amsterdam Billiards. Read more…

At Full Board Meeting, CB3 Votes Against Heathers

heathersNick DeSantis

Members of Community Board 3 just voted overwhelmingly to recommend a denial of Heathers’ application to renew its liquor license, heeding the complaints of residents who earlier told the board’s SLA committee that the bar is a noisy nuisance. Supporters of the bar — mostly employees and customers — were left dumbstruck as only one member of the board voted in favor of the 13th street watering hole. Heathers’ ultimate fate will be decided by the State Liquor Authority at a later date.

CB3 Committee Recommends That Heathers Bar Go Dry

heathersNick DeSantis

Before André Balazs and his Cooper Square Hotel associates breezed through Community Board 3’s SLA Licensing Committee meeting last night, the committee members heard vocal complaints from neighbors about Heathers Bar on East 13th Street. Members of the East 13th Street Residents’ Association accused Heathers of repeatedly violating numerous stipulations of its Sept. 2009 liquor license renewal.

After a long debate, the committee voted to recommend a denial of the bar’s application to renew its license. Read more…

D.E.P. Sides With Neighbors on Deli Noise, But That Isn’t Quieting Them

IMG_2649Stephen Rex Brown Tommy McKean points at the air conditioner that keeps him up at night.

Last week, a city inspector validated what a group of residents in a 13th Street building had said for over a month: that a ventilator unit on the roof was too loud.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Protection said, “The kitchen equipment made more noise than is allowed by the provision that sets a standard in decibels and our readings.”

Now, the management of the Hamptons Marketplace deli that uses the unit must go before an Environmental Control Board in November, where a judge will levy fines (generally from $560 to $875) if it’s found the business is not in compliance.

But Tommy McKean, a resident who lives directly below the ventilator is not satisfied, and raised the possibility of picketing outside of the deli at First Avenue with his neighbors should the equipment on the roof continue to whir. Read more…

A Heated Battle Over Air Conditioning Units

Tommy McKean and the air conditionersStephen Rex Brown Tommy McKean says that the whir of the air conditioning units directly above his apartment is a constant nuisance.

This time of year, the whir of an air conditioning unit is usually reassuring. But for several tenants living at East 13th Street and First Avenue, two industrial-strength air conditioning units on the roof of their building are instead a constant torment.

“It’s like a helicopter hovering overhead all day,” said Tommy McKean, who lives directly below the units on the fifth floor of the building. “For ten minutes, it’s not so bad. But for 24 hours a day it’s awful.” Read more…

Conversation | On 34 Avenue A

photo.JPGTodd Olmstead The doorway of 34 Avenue A.

I felt very young last week, sitting at the Community Board 3 meeting at 200 East Fifth Street. Being 21 years old, there were surely other attendees my age, or younger. But I could not beat the feeling that our voices and spirits were being silenced. I say this mostly because, as the Community Board again refused to support the application for a new experimental music venue at 34 Avenue A (formerly Mo Pitkins), a project of the music promoter Todd Patrick and Two Boots owner Phil Hartman, I felt like one of the few attendees who genuinely understood the cultural significance of what their proposed space, The Piney Woods, could be.

Imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon, when, flicking through Gmail on my iPhone, I found a response from Richard Hell, musician, punk innovator, East Village resident,and one of the most influential musical figures to come out of the neighborhood, in support of the application. The board is scheduled to consider it again at its meeting tonight.

“The Lower East Side needs a specialized, non-pop music room for musicians who are in it for other things than head-banging or making it big,” Mr. Hell told me. “Headbanging and raw ambition are fine, but there are plenty of venues for that already, and the Lower East Side would do well to maintain or recover its tradition of cutting edge art.”
Read more…

Turning Off a Neighbor’s Radio | Part 2

RadiosScott Lynch

The conclusion of Brendan Bernhard’s quest to address one of the banes of New York City apartment living: a neighbor’s noisy radio.

The landing was a long, very narrow rectangle of peeling linoleum, about four feet wide, with a continuation of the staircase in the middle of it leading up to the roof, as well as a window that let in some much-needed sunshine. The radio was coming from my right. Two grim apartment doors faced each other at one end of the corridor, painted that soul-destroying brown so cherished by New York landlords. It was obvious which apartment the radio was in and I started banging on the door right away. No answer. I banged some more. Nothing. So I tried the door opposite, hoping to find a sympathetic neighbor trembling on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Again nothing. Was everyone dead?
Read more…

Turning Off a Neighbor’s Radio | Part 1

Philip Kalantzis Cope

It had been going on for months. At 6 a.m., every morning without fail, the Day of Rest included, we would be awoken by the morning’s news as presented by WABC at a volume that would stun a rock star. News, weather, traffic, sports, commercials. News, weather, traffic, sports, commercials. News, weather, traffic, sports, commercials…. And then, after about an hour, a silence so deep it was like being parachuted into a desert. The radio had been turned off. After that, it would return (at the same blistering volume) sporadically throughout the day.

Our bedroom, which is small, gives out onto an air shaft. My wife and I usually sleep with the window open, even if just a crack, to let in some air. It’s the original tenement window, and the glass is about as noise-resistant as a few sheets of newspaper. But even if we had one of those titanically thick, gas-filled windows they use in airport hotels so conveniently located they’re practically on the runway, nothing would have been enough to keep out the din of that radio.

But where was it coming from? It took a long time to discover. Our apartment overlooks a dank courtyard, and noise bounces around maddeningly. Once, in the middle of the night, I heard a woman’s voice — one of those brassy New York voices you hear less and less frequently — call out, I know you’re looking at me, you pervert! But there was no clue to what building she was in, let alone the location of her hapless peeping tom.
Read more…

From Vance, A Call for Vigilance

IMG_0166Laura E. Lee Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Fighting crime — on the Internet or on the street — takes community cooperation, said Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who spoke to residents at the 9th Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night.

Addressing a crowd of about 40 people at the precinct stationhouse, Mr. Vance said individuals have to be diligent about protecting personal information from identity theft. “The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century,” he said.

While cybercrime is a real threat, Mr. Vance said the 500 attorneys in his office are continuing to collaborate with the local precincts to combat the more traditional crime involving “guns, gangs and drugs.”

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, commanding officer for the precinct, emphasized the need for citizens to take preventative action against crime as the weather grows warmer.

He warned the audience of some of the daily hazards in the summer, like leaving a window open or not keeping a careful eye on personal items at sidewalk cafes. Residents should be on the lookout for any unknown individuals on fire escapes and alert officers to their presence, he said.

Several residents voiced concerns about criminal activity in the region, mostly focused on underage drinking and drunken activity in the early morning hours.

“Underage drinking is a tremendous problem for us,” Inspector Lehr said. When police tested local bars for serving minors, 64 percent passed, he said.

The Council does not meet in July or August.