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Residents’ noise complaints spur possible new sound restrictions
by Joan Durbin
March 26, 2014 03:07 PM | 3137 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell is experiencing the inevitable clash between those who love live music in an outdoor setting and residents who are bothered by the sounds.

At Monday’s city council meeting, both homeowners and representatives of the commercial side of the equation spoke about a proposed new noise ordinance designed to reduce “excessive community noises” to protect “the enjoyment of life and property.”

More than a dozen residents, most of who live in the Kings Mill neighborhood south of Oxbo Road, were there to air grievances about nighttime sound emanating from Roswell’s historic downtown.

Lilot Moorman, who said her neighborhood is not close to that area of Canton Street or Alpharetta Street, said she has to endure “percussive sounds to the wee hours of the morning.”

The proposed ordinance would give residents the tools to file noise complaints because it would restrict sound that is “plainly audible” rather than using measured decibel levels.

“If the restaurants say they can’t survive without inflicting this kind of abuse on citizens, you know that’s not true and they know that’s not true,” Moorman said.

Randy Shultz, who lives in Canton Walk off of Canton Street near Norcross Street, said he and his neighbors believe the current method of measuring sound is “not adequate.” In the homes there, “we hear the music over everything else.’

It’s the music played at outdoor venues that they find objectionable, Shultz said. And that would appear to point the finger at places like the very popular Pure Taqueria on Alpharetta Street, which has a second floor open air deck with live music.

Joseph McFadden, Pure’s operations director, said the business couldn’t support the proposed ordinance for several reasons. There is no exemption for “business noise” created in the “normal course of business,” he said.

The proposed new ordinance has sound restrictions of 300 feet from the source from 7 a.m. through 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. through midnight on Friday and Saturday.

It also limits sound emanations to 100 feet from the source from 11 p.m. through 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight through 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“If you go 100 feet as written, people could make a noise complaint from the back of our parking lot,” McFadden said.

The new ordinance regulates “plainly audible” sound which can be heard from the specified distances. “Measurement shall be by the auditory senses of a person standing at a distance no less than the required minimum distance from the source of the sound,” the draft ordinance says. For music and other noise, words and phrases need not be discernible. For music and other noise, bass reverberations are included.

McFadden and Doug Curling, who owns commercial properties on Canton Street and elsewhere in the city, said allowing the human ear to be the judge is unacceptable. “We prefer definitions in the ordinance be measured by some kind of device,” Curling said.

“If a restaurant or bar business is accused of violating an ordinance, we would like something tangible to prove the line was crossed and to what degree,” McFadden said.

Monday night was the first reading and public hearing for the new ordinance, which must have a second public hearing before council votes on its approval.

Before that vote, Councilman Jerry Orlans suggested council members go out with the police chief on nights music is being played and station themselves at the 100-foot and 300-foot lines to “get your own thoughts and feelings.”

Mayor Jere Wood said he was concerned about noise that carries as far as two miles away from its source.

“Both sides make good points,” he said of the businesses and residents.

“I’m troubled as to how to resolve this. I’m not sure how to do it.”

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