SNOW HILL — An Ocean City rooftop nightclub, the first of its kind in the resort, will be a whole lot quieter this summer after the county’s Board of License Commissioners (BLC) on Wednesday voted to shut down its nightly music by 8:30 p.m.
Owners of the Galaxy 66 and its associated Skye Bar, a posh rooftop bar on the fourth floor of the popular restaurant at 66th Street, came before the BLC on Wednesday to address repeated official citations and grievances filed by neighbors in the area last summer over the loud music and other ambient noise emanating from the popular nightspot. For years, a smaller version of the Skye Bar existed on the roof of the Galaxy 66 Bar and Grille, but with the blessing of the BLC, owners Roger and Tammy Cebula last year undertook a major renovation of the rooftop space, creating a much larger version of the Skye Bar complete with more dining, live music and disc jockeys.
Last summer, the Ocean City police issued five official noise violation citations and handled scores of complaints from residents in the area about the late night music and loud conversation.
The issue came to a head on Wednesday when the owners appeared before the BLC to address the noise issues. Attorney Joe Moore said the owners were not there to deny the noise and associated complaints, but merely wanted to make some efforts to mitigate the problem. Moore said the owners have been in negotiations with the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to allow for a more enclosed rooftop space, but the town was holding the Cebulas’ feet to the fire over parking issues related to the formula for enclosed space for restaurants and bars and that there was hope the impasse could be relieved.
However, the BLC said it was not concerned with the restaurant’s BZA issues and wanted only to deal with the noise issues on their surface. To that end, Moore asked the BLC to consider allowing the Skye Bar to cut off its nightly music at 10 p.m. rather than 2 a.m. in an attempt to placate the disgruntled neighbors.
Attorney John Robins, a long-time resident in the 66th Street area, who was speaking on behalf of his family and about 35 other families in the area, told the BLC the advent of the new and improved Skye Bar had changed summer life in the roughly three-block area around the facility dramatically last year.
“From my own experience, it has been a problem,” he said. “The concept of running a nightclub from the rooftop is inconsistent with the neighborhood. Frankly, it was a miserable summer. We want Skye Bar to be an asset to the community, but not a nuisance.”
After listening to the testimony and weighing the evidence, BLC members cleared the room for private deliberations and returned a short time later after reaching their decision.
When they returned, Roger Cebula formally apologized and vowed to make the necessary changes to avoid a similar repeat in 2013.
However, BLC Chairman William Esham, Jr. pointed out the first citation was issued last May and the last was issued in October.
“It doesn’t appear to me that you were paying too much attention,” he said. “You have let us down. You were given an opportunity that nobody else in Ocean City ever got before and probably never will again.”
The three-member BLC ruled the Skye Bar will now be forced to shut down music at 8:30 p.m. and will not be allowed to have a disc jockey of any kind. The BLC also fined the Skye Bar $1,000 for each of the five official noise citations.