The New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday night gave American chain eatery Archie Moore’s the green light on its proposed kitchen expansion — but not before having an extended debate about noise pollution.

The restaurant, based in New Haven since 1898, will proceed with plans to add modern equipment to its kitchen refrigeration facilities, which have been in operation past their expected lifespan.

Yet the zoning appeal has inadvertently shed light on an ongoing dispute about noise abatement in the area. During a public hearing on Tuesday, unexpected tensions surfaced when community member Robert Bergner criticized Archie Moore’s expansion plan on the grounds that it would contribute to noise pollution.

“This is a modest request,” said Marjorie Shansky, an attorney for Archie Moore’s. “It is a conforming addition to a historic building that needs renovation, and management has been responsive to any questions posed by neighbors.”

Even before Bergner aired his concerns, Shansky preemptively addressed the issue of noise pollution. Over the past several years, she emphasized, the owner has responded to neighborhood concerns by replacing mechanical installations and purchasing sound-proofing amenities.

Bergner, who lives across from Archie Moore’s, conceded that the restaurateurs had responded to some noise-related complaints after substantive discussions. But he urged the restaurant’s management to take more a more proactive approach by purchasing modern sound-abatement products to “render the whole question of sounds emissions completely moot.”

Shansky pushed back against Bergner, however, pointing out that current noise emissions are within New Haven’s noise ordinance. She also noted that the new equipment was projected to run on a shorter schedule than their previous cooling units, cumulatively cutting noise.

Archie Moore’s Facility and Real Estate Manager Henry McKinney, also present at the hearing, echoed Shansky’s points, arguing that the new technology will help achieve lower noise levels, as the modernized units are similar to an “engine of a nice Mercedes.”

Shansky questioned the end objective of pouring so much effort into a seemingly unresolvable issue. With noise ordinance levels already met, there were no specific standards that the business had to comply with, rendering the subjective goal of a sound-free neighborhood unattainable, Shansky said.

Meanwhile, Shansky conceded that this alone doesn’t dismiss the entire conversation, and suggested that Archie Moore’s would be willing to provide noise insulation to temporarily shield the construction site. The owners are also planning to move the freezer compressors to a lower altitude than its current location.

Board members ultimately sided with Archie Moore’s, voting to approve the restaurant’s zoning appeal and saying it would be unfair to force the restaurant to do more than city’s established noise ordinances require.

“A business doesn’t survive in the neighborhood for a hundred years without satisfying and keeping satisfied its neighbors,” one board member said.

Nicole Ahn |