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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Looking At Noise Issues From Both Sides...

Today I heard a local watering hole has to face City Hall tomorrow in regard to a possibility of being denied permission to have outdoor entertainment.  The knee jerk reaction is that the bar and its entertainers are the victims, and that the complainers should get over it.  This is an argument that I can see both sides of, being both an outdoor entertainer, AND one who enjoys my quiet.  Allow me to present both sides for your review...

It is my belief that this issue and your opinion on it should be tempered by the location of the venue in question.  Every location has its own issues and challenges, and that is why cities have zoning laws.  What does happen occasionally is that the zoned area has a border, or some geographic anomaly that causes a problem.  If your business is in the heart of the commercial zone, you can probably be assured that you will have no problems or complaints.  If your commercially zoned business is in close proximity to residentially owned property, and you create noise, therein lies the rub.  Now you must face complaints and opposition.

Some cities are more fair than others in determining fair times and decibel levels for public outdoor music performance.  Any outdoor performer SHOULD be carrying a cheap decibel meter, such as I do, to be able to argue with no guesswork as to what is loud.  Noise is subject to opinion, but if the law states a number and you have a meter showing compliance, well then there is no argument.  Lets face it, performers do ramp up the volume to get over the crowd.   Concerned entertainers should monitor this so as to not be a problem for the employer...or venue managers should have a meter on site if the performer does not.

Whereas I do believe the venues should be able to have outdoor entertainment, and the performers should have a right to play, I also believe that homeowners and renters of residential properties adjacent to the entertainment have a reasonable expectation of peaceful existence.  If that peace is breached by excessive noise, or loud music, etc..., then the residents have a legitimate gripe.  This is where the history of the location comes into play...I mean, if you build your house next to a known outdoor stage, and then complained, that is on you.  If you build your bar in a residential area and add an outdoor stage, and complain that the residents revolt against you, then the bar is the bad guy.

Tomorrow, Hurricane Patty's will have to go to City Hall...just like Mad Dogs did...just like Dockside did...and every other tenant of the under the bridge location they inhabit in Flagler Beach.  They are directly on the river, in a residential neighborhood, the only business there.  Unfortunately their sound will travel over the water, and the complainers are probably the folks who live on the other side of the river...BUT, these are folks who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their homes on the river, and have a reasonable expectation of peace.  Maybe they are being overly sensitive in complaining too much, or maybe they are being bombarded with noise...that would be for those who enforce the ordinances to decide.  I don't believe Pattys should be denied permission to have music, but should be good neighbors in policing their noise levels, both from entertainers, and patrons at the waterside bar.    

Personally, I wish them luck and hope that things happen in their favor.  BUT I also hope that they are sensitive to the fact that they are sitting in a residential neighborhood, and that every business there before them has faced the same problem.  With a little thinking, and cooperation with the police, city and the area residents, they CAN coexist with no real problems.  But, don't be fooled into thinking that the complainers are music haters or whiners...if that is your reaction, imagine a school for rappers opening next to YOUR house, open til 10pm, LOL!  Food for thought....


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