NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — Representatives from Ballard’s Beach Resort pleaded their case before the R.I. Department of Business Regulation (DBR) on Tuesday after the venue’s liquor and entertainment licenses were temporarily suspended.
New Shoreham’s licensing board voted Monday night to suspend the licenses for two weeks in response to a chaotic day earlier this month. One person was arrested after a fight broke out during a reggae festival at Ballard’s on Aug. 8, then seven more were arrested after a brawl on board a ferry leaving the island. Two people were injured in the ferry fight, according to police.
R.I. State Police Capt. Peter Chabot, who was named interim chief of the New Shoreham Police Department earlier this year, said the security at Ballard’s was far outnumbered by the thousands of attendees, some of whom jumped the fence to get into the event.
“This was the definition of ‘out of control,'” Nick Solitro, legal counsel to the New Shoreham Town Council, said during Tuesday’s virtual hearing.
“The actions of the bar owner are what created this chaotic and unsafe situation in and around the establishment, completely overwhelming the town,” he added.
Ballard’s released a statement saying they believe the board had their minds made up Monday night before listening to hours of testimony from police, witnesses, and the resort’s owner, Steven Filippi.
“We anticipated the Town Council’s obviously pre-scripted decision read aloud, and not even discussed by the Board of License Commissioners, after nearly five hours of live testimony at tonight’s show cause hearing. Ballard’s will immediately appeal the baseless decision to the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation and Superior Court.”
The suspension means a loss of business for Ballard’s through the busy Labor Day weekend. The resort’s attorney, Brian LaPlante, called it “an effective death penalty.”
“This two-week period is essentially about 10% of Ballard’s season,” LaPlante said. “This will result in an irrecoverable loss.”
Tuesday’s hearing lasted about an hour. The DBR will now review the case and decide whether to keep the suspension in place, reverse it, or make changes to the decision.