Pre-trial conference held regarding outdoor music concerts in Mason

  • Marty's Driving Range in Mason. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Name hereStaff photo by Ben Conant— Name hereStaff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Marty's Driving Range in Mason. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Nicole Ruggiero of Marty's Driving Range Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Nicole Ruggiero of Marty's Driving Range Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Tal Pearson plays a DJ set at Marty's Driving Range. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 31, 2017 10:57PM
Summer 2015: Town shuts down summer concerts at Marty’s Driving Range.April 2016: Select Board agrees to hold Special Town Meeting to address outdoor entertainment. May 2016: Marty’s files for a special exemption. June 2016: Town approves an article in a

A pre-trial conference regarding a zoning ordinance that allows a Mason business to hold seasonal outdoor live music was held in Hillsborough Superior Court North on Friday.

The town granted the special exception last November, which allowed Owner of Marty’s Driving Range Martin D. Ruggiero to host seasonal outdoor entertainment in an area that is in a zoned general residential agricultural and forestry district. The ZBA decision allowed for entertainment with the exception that music is limited to less than three events per week from Memorial Day to Columbus Day Weekend and that the music must end no later than 11 p.m. on holidays and weekends and 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Neighbors requested a rehearing, but the town denied the motion in December. Residents who live near Marty’s filed a complaint against the ZBA’s decision last January.

Mason select board member Charles Moser said he attended the pre-trial conference on Friday. He said during the conference the attorneys spoke to the judge at the bench. The conversation was not public and, therefore, he didn’t catch much of it.

Moser said he was told the court will hold a two-hour bench trial regarding the matter on the third or fourth week in August, although a definitive date has not yet been announced.

Moser said he could see three outcomes playing out as a result of the trial; the court could uphold the ZBA’s decision without further action required, it could remand that the town of Mason made mistakes and has to redo certain parts of the process, or it could rule the entire process was so flawed that it needs to be completely tossed out and redone. 

A court ruled in favor of the town of Mason in an appeal against the legality of last year’s special election regarding the outdoor entertainment ordinance in June. 

Moser said the town has spent more than $10,000 in legal fees regarding this case and has already exceeded its legal budget line. 

“We feel it would be unfair to the ZBA, who spent a long time carefully considering this decision, to not fight for this,” Moser said.

While the case continues through the court system, the driving range has been hosting concerts. Its Facebook page is covered in frequent updates of events it’s hosting at the venue.

On Thursday, Marty’s held a corn hole competition starting at 6 p.m. with live music starting at 7 p.m. through 10 p.m. During last week’s event, patrons started parking along the side of Route 124, despite the posted “No Parking” signs nestled in the trees. At that point, the staff sent an employee out to steer them to the correct overflow parking area, and stayed out there sending each arrival away from the “No Parking” area. Before Brett Wilson started his set of acoustic reggae in the indoor, open-air dining area, he grabbed the mic and made an announcement — the illegally parked Chevy Silverado had to move.

A Martin D. Ruggiero owes a total of $90,171.60 on two different properties he owns as of July 31, according to a state tax website called nhtaxkiosk.com. It says he owes $53,344.91 in liens on a piece of property located at 96 Old Turnpike Road, which is the address listed for the driving range. The website says he also owes $13,775.91 in liens on a piece of property located on Fitchburg Road.

Multiple attempts to call Marty’s Co-owner Nicole Ruggiero were unsuccessful by deadline on Monday.

Derek Mathieu, who lives near the driving range and is listed as a plaintiff on court documents, said he became involved in the case after Marty’s started holding big concerts at the venue.

Mathieu said he didn’t mind when the business would draw in small music shows to play at the business. But then the Ruggiero’s built a stage, backed it up with speakers, and started blaring rock and reggae music. Mathieu said he liked the type of music they were playing, it was just too loud and went too late.

“I live 1,500 feet away and it was just coming right through the house,” Mathieu said.

He said his house is old and sound travels through it easily. When the concerts first started they would go until 2 a.m. and would keep him up into the early hours of the morning.

“When I bought the property, there was no concert venue, so I was a little ticked off,” Mathieu said, adding that he has worked the piece of farmland for 10 years and bought the property around three years ago.

Since the town has capped the number of hours the concert can run, the situation has improved, he said.

“That helps a little bit,” he said.

He said the concert on Thursday came in around 60 decibels at his place, which isn’t bad.

Still, he said he would like some sound control measures put in place, and some more rules regarding alcohol implemented.

“I don’t want their business to fail,” he said, adding that as a fellow business owner he sympathizes.

He said he also grew up going to Marty’s to eat. These days, he doesn’t go very often.

“I haven’t been in a long time,” he said, noting that the live music ordeal has tainted the experience.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.