Boone Town Council To Revisit Noise Ordinance Thursday, Raise dB Level Three Days a Week?

Published Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Editor’s Note: This story was published after the Boone Town Council meeting on March 19. On Thursday, the council will revisit the noise ordinance and possibly vote on raising the decibel level for live and recorded music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on Blowing Rock Road.  

By Jesse Wood

On Thursday night, the Boone Town Council directed Town Attorney Allison Meade to draft new changes to the noise ordinance that would raise the decibel level from 70 dB to 75 dB until 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for live and recorded music in downtown Boone.

The vote, which was 4-0, didn’t include Councilman Rennie Brantz, who was absent.

This differs from the original proposal in February that would have raised the decibel level to 75 dB seven days of the week. In February, Meade was directed to draft amendments to the noise ordinance, which also included limiting complaints from a household where no violation was issued to only five in a year before the police stopped investigating complaints.

In April, the Boone Town Council will have a chance to vote on the new changes once Meade puts them in writing. The changes will also include a three-month trial period to test out how increasing the noise level impacts residences in the downtown district.

In February, Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford gave the council a report on the noise ordinance.

In 2013 and 2014, the Boone Police Department responded to 48 complaints at businesses, issued 15 warnings and handed out one violation. It also found that the businesses were in compliance 32 of those times.

When asked by council, Crawford said that it was “no question” that the majority of complaints were directed at the Boone Saloon and that the residents to complain “absolutely” the most times were Judie Humphreys and Terry Taylor of 601 Grand Boulevard.

“I am in a household absolutely disturbed by music, primarily from Boone Saloon” Taylor told council last month.

Jesse Miller, who also lives on Grand Boulevard, next door to Taylor and Humphreys, said that he and his wife moved to Boone for the culture, and while he can hear music from his property, it’s never disturbed his family.

When asked by Councilwoman Lynne Mason, who voted against February’s measures, on Thursday, Crawford said, “I don’t feel like we’ve been getting frivolous complaints.”

Mason said that while she wants a vibrant downtown, she also wants to protect neighborhoods from loud noise.

Councilman Quint David cited Crawford’s report: the one violation in the past two years; complaints directed at Boone Saloon coming from mostly one household; and that the vast majority of noise-related complaints in town – more than 1,000 in the past two years – are directed at residences and not local businesses.

Councilman Fred Hay, who put this topic at the forefront at the beginning of the year, made a motion to keep the original amendments suggest in February. Even though he agreed to go along with the council to only increase the ordinance for three days of the week, he pointed out that he preferred an increase throughout the week because Boone isn’t a town that gets major acts on the weekends.

Meade, the town attorney, said that because the council wanted to amend the draft that she put together for this meeting, the council would again have to put the new draft ordinance into writing before being allowed to vote on changes to the ordinance. This is why council will wait to vote on the new amendments until the April meeting.

The new amendments won’t include the prior provision limiting complaints.

During public comment before council’s discussion, seven people – including musicians, local business owners, a professor at ASU, a booking manager at Boone Saloon – spoke on the issue and all of them spoke in favor of raising the noise ordinance.

For more about this issue, read about last month’s Boone Town Council meeting on this topic here.

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