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Police presence on the corner of the four pubs on the corner of Maple & Hillary streets will increase in response to complaints from the Maple Area Residents Inc. and Councilwoman Susan Guidry, along with sanctions on bars such at Rocco’s Tavern and TJ Quill’s Restaurant & Bar involving loitering, excessive noise and underage drinking. Additionally, some bars are changing the age at which patrons can enter.

Neighbors have voiced complaints about loitering and noise violations, and January raids at Rocco’s and TJ Quill’s led to hearings and consent judgments with the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. In particular, neighbors have complained about Tulane students and have voiced concerns with the Tulane Office of Government Affairs.

While Bruno’s Tavern has required patrons to be over 19 years old to enter for more than 10 years, Rocco’s adopted that rule during the summer, and TJ Quill’s Manager Brody Benoit said his bar will begin enforcing the same rule.

“We legally can do 18 and up, but from talking to people and with the city, it’s probably in our best interest to do 19 and up,” Benoit said.

The New Orleans Alcohol Beverage Control Board sanctioned Rocco’s at a June 21 meeting for charges related to noise violations and underage drinking. The sanctions specified that to lessen the noise, music shouldn’t be heard from more than 50 feet away. Additionally, when music is playing, the door may not be open for more than a minute at a time. The bar must also ensure that no one loiters outside, and its to-go cups must have the bar name on them.

Rocco’s also agreed to immediately fire any employee that sells alcohol to an underage person and will take ID both at the door and the bar to curb underage drinking. The bar is also required by the Board to pay 50 percent of the cost for a law enforcement patrol.

Guidry said that MARI was pleased with the outcome of the consent judgment.

A major piece of MARI and Guidry’s argument came from a video taken by a resident, which appeared on local CBS affiliate WWL and featured loud music, large crowds and trash strewn about the street. Morgan Gayle works at Rocco’s and was working the night the video was taken. Gayle said the video misrepresented the normal crowd because it was during homecoming weekend.

“At every bar in this block, everyone and their mother was out that night,” Gayle said. “In the news story they insinuated that this is how it is all the time. That’s not how it is. With that amount of people it was impossible to keep that many people inside without violating our fire code.”

Gayle also said that complaints about the noise level at Rocco’s were unwarranted because TJ Quill’s features an outdoor patio and uses amplifiers in their bar.

“We only have speakers,” Gayle said. “We don’t have amps. So you could hear bumping from Quill’s, and their music would be well above ours. It’s a lower frequency so it’s going to carry farther.”

TJ Quill’s hearing date with the Alcohol Beverage Control Board, having already been pushed back twice, will take place next month. While the Aug. 16 ABC Board meeting agenda included allegations against TJ Quill’s for serving alcohol to minors and allowing people under the age of 18 to loiter on premises, TJ Quill’s owner Victor Maenza insisted that the bar never received a citation for such allegations.

“The only thing we actually got ticketed for was not having a manager on duty,” Maenza said. “The other things we never got ticketed for. Just because it’s on the agenda doesn’t mean that it actually happened. One of the other bars had it happen to them, so they’re trying to push that to everyone.”

Guidry, however, said she expects TJ Quill’s consent judgment to be similar to Rocco’s consent judgment.

TJ Quill’s usually keeps its door closed to help reduce noise. To help reduce litter, they changed their policies this summer to not let patrons leave with a drink. It is also planning to institute a dress code. TJ Quill’s gives out bracelets to patrons older than 21, but Benoit said it can be difficult to distinguish fake ID’s and to make sure that people over 21 aren’t buying drinks for underage patrons.

“Bartenders know if they are caught giving a drink to someone under 21, they are fired on spot,” Benoit said. “Our bouncers are instructed to walk around and check to see anyone without a bracelet drinking we will remove [the drink].”

Some bar owners said that MARI is not necessarily representative of the community.

“I’ve never believed the neighborhood association represented the desires of the neighborhood,” Melius said. “It only represented the desires of a few people who run the organization. I think most of people live in this neighborhood because of the bars, restaurants and coffee shops on Maple Street, not in spite of them”

Other bar owners said that MARI and Guidry are ignoring the importance of promoting local businesses, some of which have been around for more than 60 years.

“I can understand where they’re coming from but I think in some instances they go out of their way,” Benoit said. “They see a cup in the street and blow it out of proportion.”

Guidry said that while the businesses have been around for a long time, police and residents have informed her that they have become less respectful to neighbors in recent years.

“Some of them have gone from being more of a restaurant type to being more of just a bar,” Guidry said. “The amount of non-compliance has increased over the years.”

Both Guidry and the bar owners agree that it is a bar’s responsibility to operate within the law.

“If bar owners are operating illegally and serving [minors], [ATC agents] should keep coming back and raiding them,” Bruno’s owner David Melius said. “It gives us all a bad name.”

Guidry said she believes bars have two options.

“My focus and intent is that the business establishments that serve alcohol are going to either comply with the law or close,” Guidry said. “Businesses in that area can operate at a profit and still comply with the law.”

Guidry said there will be more ATC agents and police officers monitoring the area around the Maple Street bars in the coming weeks.

“We are continuing to have the police monitor these areas closely, and we want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves in a legal manner and that the police will be citing people who are breaking the law,” Guidry said. “I’ve been meeting with the state alcohol tobacco board and with the second district police … to implement a focus on particularly the Maple area establishments.”

Melius said he wouldn’t mind the extra enforcement.

“If that helps clean it up and conform with the law, I’m all in favor of it,” Melius said. “Once [Guidry] figures out who’s who, I presume she’ll understand who are the good operators and who’s not.”

Gayle said it is impossible for Rocco’s to control everything that a patron does after leaving the bar and that he wouldn’t mind extra law enforcement at the intersection.

“There needs to be someone here policing the streets and making sure people aren’t out there peeing on the street,” Gayle said. “That’s not my job. That’s not the bar’s job to stop.”

Some of the owners said their bars are being unfairly grouped in with other bars, and that Guidry needs to work more with the bars rather than against them.

“I agree that we need to clean up the area, but they need to work with us to get things done,” TJ Quills owner Vincent Maenza said. “Speaking with [Guidry] a couple times, she seems to want nothing to do with the bars. She wants to close them all down. I don’t agree with that. I think everyone just needs to get together and sit down.”

Undergraduate Student Government President Evan Nicoll has spoken with Guidry about how Tulane students can work in cooperation with the community.

“What I’m trying to get from her is to send me a letter or email to forward to all students to say whatever her message is that she would like to send to students,” Nicoll said. “She went in guns blazing because she was reacting to her constituents.”

Guidry said that when you have a large university in a residential area like Tulane, the students are naturally going to have an impact on the community.

“It’s a matter of the university making it clear to the students what is and what is not respectable treatment of the residents, and then also it’s up to the city to monitor both the university and the businesses,” Guidry said.

Nicoll said that Tulane needs to improve its public relations in the community, and that the new external affairs committee will be helpful to that end.

“It’s a combination of what the bars can do and what the students can do,” Nicoll said. “The bars have already had the issue brought to them so they’re making changes on their behalf. From a student standpoint, the best thing I can say is if you’re in that area to act responsibly.”

Guidry said that the key to living together in the same neighborhood is mutual respect.

“There’s a simple solution to the problem and that is for everyone to respect everyone else,” Guidry said. “The students need to understand that the people who live in that area have families to raise, jobs to attend to, and they have to be able to sleep at night. On the other hand, the residents need to understand that they live near a university and respect the students’ rights to come and go and not stereotype them, and the businesses need to respect the quality of life of the residents.”

MARI President Thomas Milliner declined to comment citing.

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