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Noise Ordinance Trial Period Extended One Month; Violations/Complaints Mount with Warmer Weather

By Jesse Wood

June 22, 2012. On Thursday night, the Boone Town Council voted 4-1 to extend the trial period of the town’s new noise ordinance to July 31. The trial period was to expire on June 30. This extension comes as noise violations and complaints continue to increase, according to Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford, with the warmer weather that is more conducive to live music, summer outdoor concerts and the touring schedule of bands. 

“I’m not sure what we are going to gain [by the extension].” Council Member Jamie Leigh said. “I don’t see anything magically happening in that two month period. It’s unclear what we are going to achieve.”

Council Members Allan Scherlen extended the motion because there were early issues with decibel reading machines that delayed data gathering. He also wanted to examine how the noise ordinance would be violated during the summer months as opposed to late winter and  spring. 

He motioned for a two-month extension, which Council Member Andy Ball seconded, but no one else on the board voted for the two-month extension. Council Members Lynne Mason and Jamie Leigh agreed to a one-month extension, while Council Member Rennie Brantz voted nay on both extension motions.  

In the month of May and first week of June, the Boone Police Department received 14 noise complaints, six of which resulted in violations. Five of those violations were from the Boone Saloon and one from Char, both of whom are involved in litigation with the Town of Boone over the noise ordinance. 

Leigh was concerned that one particular business – insinuating Boone Saloon without mentioning their name – was receiving the vast majority of complaints and violations, while other businesses that held live music never received complaints such as Murphy’s Restaurant and Pub. Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele suggested that Boone Saloon might need to change the direction its stage faces. As of now, Boone Saloon’s stage faces the Grand Boulevard area, where several complainants reside including Council Member Rennie Brantz.  

Furgiuele wondered aloud, “Why other clubs in town, such as Murphy’s, do not have a single warning or violation.” He also added that Boone Saloon “from what I can tell, hasn’t made any changes [to decrease noise] at all. If they really wanted to do it they could change location of the stage.” 

Leigh said, “I find it odd that one business is having trouble with decibels. What it is telling me is [Boone Saloon] is not giving as much effort as need to be.” She added, perhaps its a flaw with the structure of the building or the orientation of the doors. 

Both Scherlen and Ball suggested tweaking the measuring procedure, which calls for two readings higher than the limit for more than five seconds to incur a violation. Ball suggested extending the time frame to 10, 15 or even 30 seconds.  

Furgiuele said that in his court filings regarding the litigation between the Town of Boone and Boone Saloon and Char that 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.” 

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.”

“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 under the law.”

Boone Saloon and Char are not seeking any monetary damages.