Madison Beach Hotel Being Investigated By State Liquor Control Commission [Updated]

The New Haven Register reports that former Police Commission Chairman Emile Geisenheimer of Middle Beach road, and other residents make complaint to police after concert by The Fixx in late August.


The Madison Police, prompted by a complaint from former Police Commission Chairman Emile Geisenheimer, have referred the Madison Beach Hotel to the state Liquor Control Commission for selling liquor on the Grassy Strip, the town-owned piece of land adjacent to the hotel, according to a report in the New Haven Register: 

Geisenheimer and two other residents complained to police the day after the Aug. 30 concert, and the case went to the department’s top brass, Commander John Rich, with much of the evidence having gone through Chief John Drumm. The case resulted in a police referral to the state’s Liquor Control Commission, alleging a violation of the hotel’s permit to sell liquor, according to a police report. The concerts were on of land owned by the town, but contiguous to the hotel at 94 West Wharf Road and used by them under an agreement with the town that includes no alcohol consumption.

The report in the Register said they obtained a video taken by Geisenheimer of the concert, showing a woman selling beer, through a Freedom of Information request. Read the full report in the New Haven Register.

Claudette Carveth, a spokeswoman for the state Liquor Control Commission said Wednesday the department is investigating the complaint from the police. She said she did not know the specifics of the complaint and did not know how long the investigation might take.

"I can only tell you we have received a complaint from the Madison Police Department as of Monday afternoon and we will investigate," she said.

John Mather, the general manager of Madison Beach Hotel, whose name is listed on the liquor licenses issued by the state, issued this statement: 

“We have been informed of a complaint regarding draft beer being served on the property of the Madison Beach Hotel.  This occurred during a scheduled free music event hosted by the hotel for our neighbors in the greater Shoreline community.  We believe we are fully and strictly compliant with all rules and regulations in the safe, lawful dispensing of food and beverages, and have received no notice of violation from either town leadership or from any state agency. We take great care in providing a safe and secure environment for our guests and neighbors and will continue to do so in a manner consistent with these high standards.”

Madison Zoning Enforcement Officer John DeLaura told Madison Patch on the day after The Fixx concert that he had received several complaints about noise following the hotel concerts from about two or three people, and maybe about a half dozen emails.

DeLaura told Madison Patch that the Zoning Board of Appeals conditions of approval do include restrictions relating to the amplification of music and outdoor events. He said the hotel is also operating the concerts as part of a separate agreement with the town relating to the Grassy Strip, where the concert was held. It is owned by the town, but is being used by the hotel as part of a short term arrangement that will expire at the end of the year, and be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen.

DeLaura told Madison Patch on the day after the concert that he reviewed the information with the town attorney and did not plan to issue a letter of non-compliance to the hotel about the complaints. "This is a complex situation involving the conditions of approval and, now, the temporary agreement about the Grassy Strip that allows them to host concerts and events on that space," DeLaura told Madison Patch. "What we have is ambiguity there."

The New Haven Register article says DeLaura "told police he would issue the hotel an informal notice of violation for exceeding the number of attendees allowed, the police report states. According to the report, Geisenheimer told police on Aug. 31 that there were ongoing noise issues during the Thursday concerts and that the hotel violated its zoning variance for outdoor events because there was additional outside lighting, alcohol consumption and more than 120 attendees."

Madison resident Walter Lippmann has complained repeatedly about violations by Madison Beach Hotel to the Board of Selectmen.

Lippmann has said that the hotel ignores ordinances, parking and zoning requirements, and has committed other violations. At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting he said expressed concern about water flowing from the roof of the hotel over to the town-owned beach across the street.

Following Lippmann's complaints at that meeting earlier this month, hotel officials said town officials called to discuss that matter with them. First Selectman Fillmore McPherson and other town officials have not responded to an email request for information about what action, if any, the town took following Lippmann's complaints about the water.

SGA September 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM
This is getting ridiculous. It's pretty clear at this point that a handful of people won't be happy unless they manage to put the hotel out of business, regardless of the affect on the many people employed by MBH and the area businesses it helps support. I used to feel sympathetic to homeowners in the neighborhood of the hotel, but the level of animosity is getting so out of hand that now I am embarrassed for the whole town of Madison. "A couple of phone calls and a few emails" hardly sounds representative of the rest of the town's feelings. But yeah, let's see if we can harass MBH into giving up because the economy doesn't need the jobs they provide and the town doesn't need their taxes! Maybe the residents so eager to see them fail will agree to make up for the loss of taxes and income to MBH employees and the local businesses they use if they succeed in making it impossible for the hotel to compete. Or, I'd be happy to trade homes with any of the hotel's neighbors if they can't handle a few nights with a bit more noise and light than usual over the brief summer season. Now that it's fall, can we start a campaign against Hand Football? The lights and loud music from the games (not to mention horrible traffic!) must be awful for the residents of that neighborhood!
Mad Local September 12, 2012 at 12:08 PM
If Emile Geisenheimer is a former Police Chairman why does he still have a state issued police commissioner license plate with the monogram "MADPD" on his personal vehicle??? Its sitting in his driveway now. maybe the State & Chief Drumm should investigate that. Pem, you can make a few calls too.
Malinda Moore September 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Regarding Mad Local's problems........Funny that theyare making an issue here about a few legal police commission plates but not about the questionable massive number of Vol. Fire Fighter plates on vehicles long after they are no longer a member. Who controls that in each fire company? What goes for the goose should go for the gander.
Jan Jones September 12, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Such ridiculous drama over concerts that hurt NO ONE..... the new MBH is a wonderful addition to our community and the grassy strip concerts (all 2 hours of entertainment each, not to mention over by 9 or 9:30) are fantastic! How wonderful it is to see families with small children, empty nesters and the in-between enjoying great entertainment....for FREE! It is a shame that neighbors can be so nasty over something that is so short-lived and provides so much fun to our town.
Liz September 12, 2012 at 01:02 PM
West Wharf is now a mess because of them. Also, I hope that graffiti has been removed on the stone pier.
Dave September 12, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Think ten years from now when the MBH is falling down from disrepair because you ran them out of business with petty complaints. Won't a few free concerts seem like a treat? We should realize how blessed we are that this is the biggest problem we have in town right now - think back to what you were doing this time last year and be thankful.
Michael September 12, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Don, Some people should get there head out of the grassy strip. The biggest problem in town right now is the shrinking performance of the educational system in town (we have now fallen behind Guilford for the second straight year) and are only teaching science and math 2 of three High School trimesters a year so students can take classes like Home Economics and MS Publisher. However, when it comes to the MBH please let me know when it "falls down". I would be happy to rally the troupes to remove it brick by brick and restore the towns quite small New England Shoreline ambiance.
Ann September 12, 2012 at 02:18 PM
We heard the concert from our livingroom. I wanted to go check it out but my husband said there was no way a band that sounded that good was actually playing live in Madison. He thought it must be a live recording. I guess we've gotten accustomed to the stuff we hear blasting out of the beach club most weekend nights during the Summer. Our neighbors told us they had a blast. The music was great. There were $3 Naragansetts. Maybe selling alcohol on the grassy strip is not such a good idea; Especially if we want a mixed audience to enjoy the concerts. However, as a hotel neighbor (about 1/2 mile away), I welcome decent sounding bands that end at a reasonable time.
Ed September 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I agree with SGA and Jan, the town now more than ever needs to attract people to town for evening events, concerts and entertainment. Towns like Guilford and Branford have run away from Madison with better economic development plans that have successfully built out more restaurants, shops, and storefronts.. We should welcome this new business and all it has to offer.. The whole attack sounds self motivated, it's time to clean house with all the stuffy self absorbed mgmt in this town
Pem McNerney (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I just got a call from Madison Hose Co. No. 1 Captain Bobby Kyttle who wanted to clarify the comment about the "questionable massive number of Vol. Fire Fighter plates." Kyttle said volunteer firefighters are allowed to have as many plates as they have cars. If they have one car, they get one plate, if they have four cars, they get four plates. Firefighters who have retired, having served their duty to the town in this volunteer capacity helping to save lives and property, are allowed to retain their plates. Essentially, even if they are retired from active duty, they are still firefighters. "Nobody who is not a member of the fire department has plates on their cars," he said.
Ann September 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Michael, parents have been complaining about the two trimesters of Math and English for all of the four years my daughter was at the High School. My son went 9 months without math, including the Summer. The Madison parents' approach has been to privately tutor their kids. The tutors recommended by the school...other school teachers, or recently retired teachers for at least $60 per hour cash. My son's teacher didn't believe it should be necessary for him to review math homework. Unfortunately for my son, he interpreted that as meaning he didn't have to do his homework. There are several families I know who basically have a tutor full time. I told the principal that I thought they could alleviate this disparity problem if teachers encouraged the use of free tutoring programs such as Kahn Academy, which can be set up so that a teacher monitors a students review online and can spend more focused time in class working on what the general weaknesses are. One of her department heads (social studies) supported the idea, and Mrs Britton (the principle) said she was aware of that technique as what's become known as "teacher tutoring". However, She defends the trimester system to the hilt, saying that they were recognized by the accreditation bureau for having less stressed out students than other schools and she credits the trimester system for that.
Audrey Horn September 12, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Thanks Pem for posting the info from Madison Hose Company about car plates. That sounds logical for fire people as well as police people. Looks like Mad local's concerns have been addressed.
Wilson September 12, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Ed. good point regarding Economic Development planning. Madison under the current selectman Madison has not addressed the various studies and plans that have been proposed for Main Street. The selectman has however been the point of contention for giving away great bargains to MBH and other developers self interest. However, like Guilford and Branford the attention needs to be on downtown Main Street were the most economic benefit could be felt and not on a energy and enthusiasm sucking vortex on the beach. Everyone could benefit from a downtown economic development plan that works not just those lucky enough to live in million dollar "summer homes" or able to pay the $25 parking fees at the Dolly. Pem ask the business owners downtown what is more important; the giveaways to the MBH or a cohesive Economic Development Plan for Main Street that has their interests at the center and not some trickle down approach that is currently enforce.
Audrey Horn September 12, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I agree with the person who said eariler that all the town wan'ts is tax revenue, everything else is secondary. No traffic study, no parking study, no noise study etc.
Michael September 12, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Ann, well said. With study after study showing science and math are this generations of kids foundation to happier economically stable lives it is incumbent to offer the tools regardless of the stress levels. Guilford has figured this out (to say nothing of 15 other industrialized nations in compassion). Besides stress can come from content but it is more likely to come from presentation. As Ralph Waldo Emerson has said "Knowledge is the antidote to fear" or has Ms Britton now given up on reading as well?
Andrea M. L. September 12, 2012 at 06:16 PM
So, why DOES Mr. Geisenheimer have Police Commissioner plates? I believe that would would be considered false representation. I suggest that he make a trip to DMV post-haste, and also replace the "Mad PD" vanity plates while he is there. Time to stop living in the past, not to mention misleading the public (and State Police).
Leslie S September 12, 2012 at 11:21 PM
It's time to lay off the hotel and support it. They are supporting the community and offering something different for our kids (a respit from sports) with the music and movie offerings. And where else can you sit by the water and sip a cocktail and take in the beautiful Madison coastline. They are doing a lot for the community coffers -- It's time we become a welcoming community and support our local.
Pem McNerney (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Love that quote, Michael.
Pem McNerney (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 11:33 PM
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure: http://www.rwe.org/complete-works/vii-society-and-solitude/chapter-x-courage.html
Janet September 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Do we have a Planning Director yet? I read that the town officials want to spend $1MM to relocate utility wires to the back side of Main Street... Really??? How about a crosswalk near Cafe Allegre or a left turn lane coming West off Rt 1 onto Samson Rock... We have the room, and there is a traffic mess at that intersection every summer weekend. Do we really need more ball fields? I've seen many empty fields this summer all around town, and with more coming to Strong, do we really need them at Griswold? Sorry to get off-topic, but someone needs to be making logical and informed decisions here for better spending in our town.
Malcolm Nicholls September 13, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Give them an inch and they take a mile... The reality is this hotel is operating at a far greater scale then was ever presented to zoning. I am not anti business - but it would have been possible to build a lovely establishment (and a profitable establishment) without being so damn gaudy, big, and over the top. The fact that they keep pushing the boundaries of what is appropriate for the scale and location of the property is what amazes. The old Wharf had bands every weekend - inside! They had lovely expansive porches to sit on and enjoy a drink - you didn't need to do it on town land. Once in a while there was a wedding reception on the lawn. Fine. But weekly movies? Concerts? All outdoors? All adjacent to residential homes and a public beach? Come on. Stop trying to turn this quaint, historic New England location into some Atlantic City cheese fest. You've done enough damage already.
Native- not townie September 13, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Here here! I was at that FIXX concert. It was awesome and a GORGEOUS night! The concert was over and the band simply walked off the stage and around the building- no crazed fans chasing them, asking for pictures and etc. As far as noise- this concert was over before 10:30. If you buy a home by the Dolly Madison and The Wharf- don't cry later that they have music and serve alcohol unti the wee hours of 10pm at nigjht!
SGA September 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Chuck, have you been to any of the concerts or movies? We didn't get to attend any of the concerts, but we saw most of the movies with our kids. The crowds were not big, there was not a lot of noise, and in no way was it an "Atlantic City cheese fest." It was a really nice way to enjoy the evening as a family in a beautiful location over our all-to-short summer season. I hope MBH offers the movies again next summer in spite of the few negative attitudes around town. We live very near to the high school. Last night we were treated to a lot of screaming and noise from sports fans. We often get to listen to the marching band practice the same song over and over and over again. We have to put up with traffic late at night after school events, sometimes involving quite a bit of celebratory honking and screaming. From about 6:45 to 7:30 in the morning, we can't get out of our own driveway because of the traffic. I have not once considered complaining about the noise level or traffic issue because it means we live in a vibrant area with enthusiastic support for the public school athletic program. The benefits for us living near the schools vastly outweighs the hassle of living near a school. I'd like to think that if I were fortunate enough to have a home right on the water, I'd be so happy with life that my attitude wouldn't be so "quaint and historic."
Ann September 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM
SGA. That's a really good way to put things in perspective with respect to noise and I agree that those of us who live close to places where the rest of the town convenes for recreation need to sometimes accept the noise, at reasonable hours. However, we're all sort of missing the main point of the story which had to do with serving liquor without a license and if we're to form opinions about Mr Geisenheimer's actions, we should probably address whether or not that's acceptable or appropriate or if it even happened.
Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Well said Chuck. As Leslie requested above, I refuse to shut up and support it. They ran rough shot over us and I have the freedom to speak the truth and demand a change not only in the behavior of the MBH but in the elected officials that continue to bring us their self interest and not the communities. I would have been happy to "support our local" if they had not continued jamming their ambitions down or throat. I love "our local" I know many by first name and support many despite cheaper equal quality options (i.e. RJ's). We don't need a lecture on how to be good economic neighbors. SGA above has it wrong. If you have kids you bought your house after the High School (new or old) was located where it is. Don't be shocked that there are sports events on High School fields that preceded you. Don't try to link those arguments. Besides, sporting events are open to the public and are accessible with the correct parking plans (sans Lowery Field) and don't cost unimaginable fees (read $25 parking fees on concert nights at the Dolly). The cost of use of town lands are relatively free and expected the cost of the MBH has increased in cost at every turn and unpredictable. Enough already.
kathy drews September 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM
First the b-1 bear and know the Madison beach hotel, As the Madison turns.
Audrey Horn September 15, 2012 at 06:17 AM
You are not alone Michael ! Anywhere I have ever gone in Connecticut where there was alcohol being sold or served outdoors, the area had some sort of barrier like a fence or gate with designated entry/exits. The business checked and verified the I.D. of anyone wanting alcoholic drinks and then issued them a wrist band in advance if they were 21 or older. With 300 people attending and milling around outside the M.B.H. concert, how did they control potential illegal alcohol sales and consumption at their sponsored event? I don't think that was the job of the one lone cop that was there as he had his hands full with traffic and general crown control. Just askin!


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