Spurred by residents’ complaints about loud music at commercial establishments disrupting their evenings, Police Chief Rusty Grant had tried to address the situation with a proposed ordinance that would restrict sound that is “plainly audible” rather than using measured decibel levels.
But some business owners thought that to be too subjective, saying decibels are a proven and demonstrable method of determining a noise violation. Now the tricky part, according to Councilman Jerry Orlans, is balancing the needs of both the residents and the businesses.
“That’s what we hope we’re doing.” Orlans said after council members in committee last week tweaked the ordinance language.
“Basically, what we did was now, we’re not going to keep the part about listening to the sound for a violation. We’re going to keep decibel ratings as an objective viewpoint.”
Also in the proposed revisions is a way to measure bass tones for unacceptable levels, Orlans said. Noise will be evaluated from the property line of the place from which it is emanating.
But the key element to the whole proposal, Orlans said, is the elimination of outdoor or amplified music after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
“In talking to some of the restaurant people they’re saying they don’t need outdoor music late at night,” he said.
As yet unclear is whether these newest changes to the noise ordinance would appease residents who feel most affected.
Orlans, who is council liaison to the public safety department, said this version of the ordinance will be brought back before council for a public hearing and vote on May 12.
“We want our restaurants, and we want entertainment, and we want people to have fun. But we don’t think we need the music after 10 at night,” he said.
“We picked that time for it to wind down so that people can still enjoy the peace of their homes and the restaurants can still get in a decent night’s business.”