By Jesse Wood
July 30, 2012. Law firms representing Boone Saloon and Char in a lawsuit against the Town of Boone regarding the noise ordinance filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the ordinance.
This was filed last Monday, July 23, after the Boone Town Council let the trial period for the ordinance expire at the end of July without any changes and without discussing the issue in open session in July’s regular schedule meetings.
In March, Char and Boone Saloon filed a civil complaint regarding the noise ordinance after the Boone Town Council established the ordinance with a four-month trail period, which was extended one month to end July 31 at a June town council meeting.
Currently, the lawsuit is in the discovery phase, according to Jak Reeves, one of the attorneys representing Boone Saloon and Char. The discovery phase is the process of requesting documents and exchanging information from the opposing parties.
In May, Reeves wrote in an email, “Our clients contend that this ordinance has certainly hurt their ability to run their business, but it also has infringed on their right to Free Speech, as well as their right to Equal Protection.”
The ordinance limits 60 decibels from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings; 70 decibels from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings; and 70 decibels until 11 p.m. and 60 decibels thereafter. The measuring procedure calls for two readings higher than the limit for more than five seconds in order for a violation to occur. Council Members Andy Ball and Alan Scherlen, who both voted against the original ordinance, both called for raising the decibel limits and/or tweaking the measuring procedure.
At the Thursday, July 19, regular Boone Town Council meeting, two residents of Grand Boulevard – Judie Humphries and Terry Taylor – requested that Boone Town Council change the ordinance, making the decibel limits lower. Both said that with the current ordinance live music from downtown can still be heard, and Taylor added that if the current ordinance is upheld than “nothing can be done” in the future about loud sounds that are within the ordinance limits.
In the past year, the Boone Town Council has tried to find harmony between a lively downtown and nearby residents who complain that live music has been too loud. Boone Saloon has had the vast majority of complaints throughout the whole ordeal.
Jak Reeves, one of the attorneys representing the two establishments, said in an email, his clients “Encourage the Town to draft an Ordinance that serves the common good of the people of Boone and still protects the rights of businesses who promote live and recorded music.”
Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele is out of town as this story went to press. At a Boone Town Council meeting June, Furgiuele said in his court filings regarding the litigation he maintained that the board has found a balance between people having “peaceful enjoyment of their homes at times when they have expectations of quiet” and “having live music in downtown Boone.”
Boone Saloon and Char are not seeking monetary damages.