Council doesn't change noise ordinance
by Anna Oakes
The changes to the noise ordinance enacted in February, including decibel limits for sound measured 10 feet away from live music venues in business districts, will remain in effect, and fines will be levied beginning in August.
The approved ordinance restricts sound measured at or within 10 feet of a venue's property line to 70 decibels from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday evenings and to 60 decibels from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. On weeknights, the standards are 70 decibels until 11 p.m. and 60 decibels after that.
Higher limits of 85 decibels are permitted from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
After four written warnings, subsequent violations of the ordinance result in $100, $200 and $500 fines.
Terry Taylor and Judy Humphreys, residents of the Grand Boulevard neighborhood, spoke about the noise ordinance during public comment Thursday. Taylor and Humphreys have spoken at several meetings about the noise ordinance and have said music from nearby Boone Saloon often makes it difficult for them to sleep.
Taylor said he tracked the police department's complaints throughout the trial period, counting 36 complaints from at least 12 different residences resulting in 14 written warnings for violations.
“What does that tell us?” he said. “Roughly half of all the complaints that has been disturbed enough to complain, nothing can be done about it under this current maximum decibel level. The ordinance needs more teeth. (The decibel limits) need to be lowered.”
The Boone Town Council voted 3-2 in February to enact changes to the noise ordinance following seven months of debate and revisions. After approving the amendments, the council established a four-month trial period during which citations were issued for noise violations but no fines were charged.
Venues will begin with a “clean slate” in August, and warnings received during the trial period will not be counted.
In other action, the council:
• voted to scale back fee increases for town parking space rentals that took effect July 1. The town of Boone rents spaces in the Queen Street parking lot to downtown businesses and other members of the public.
The council approved what amounted to a 30 percent increase in the rental fees as part of the 2012-13 fiscal year budget but decided to reduce the increase to 10 percent when several patrons complained about the significant fee hike, the first since 2008.
The increase in fees will now amount to $30 per year instead of $90 per year. Those who already made payments will receive refunds.
• voted to renew the contract with the Downtown Boone Development Association for the administration of municipal district tax revenues.