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ORANGE : Coffeehouse to Build Wall to Lessen Noise

The owners of P.J. Mead’s Books and Coffee will have to build a sound-buffer wall within 60 days to end a long-running neighborhood dispute.

The City Council made the decision after an emotional meeting Tuesday, when the cafe owners, customers and neighbors competed for support from council members.

Friction between neighbors in the 100 block of South Cambridge Street and the owners of P.J. Mead’s began about 1990 when the Olde Cambridge Market and Deli became a coffeehouse. The market had started in the 1920s or 1930s and was exempt from residential zoning, according to Community Development Director Jack McGee.

Next-door neighbor Mariola Szeglowska contended that noise from the coffeehouse grew as the business thrived. She said she could hear music and conversation from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. She added that rattling of dishes and door-banging from late-night cleanup continued after that.

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“We just want a normal life,” she told the council. “We don’t want his customers to be our alarm clock.”

McGee recommended that the Mead family build a sound-buffer wall next to the cafe and extend the wall about midway down the property to a garage. This would leave the back yard, which the Meads said is their private area, exposed. Neighbors contended that customers sometimes wander beyond the cafe into the back yard and that the wall should extend for the entire property line that borders Szeglowska’s property.

“I’d like to see the wall go the whole way,” Councilman Fred L. Barrera said. “That’s a small price to pay for peace.”

Gary Mead Jr., part owner of the coffeehouse, said after the meeting that the Mead family was disappointed but would comply with the council’s unanimous decision to build the wall the full length of their property line.

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The wall will probably cost $8,000 to $10,000, he said.

“I’m just happy that, as of right now, this has come to a conclusion,” Mead said.


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