Night noises cause consternation

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Commissioner James Morris told Planning last Tuesday that four people had spoken to him about engines revving at 1 a.m. and the general overall noise in the city over the weekend. He said people called the police, but police could not control it.

City Economic Development Officer Glenna Booth quickly stated Morris should not blame the police for the noise. “They do their jobs,” she said.

Commissioner Tom Buford said he had heard an off-duty policeman say the owner of an establishment turned off the music at his place and the noise level outside still exceeded acceptable limits. “It’s part of being a tourist town,” Buford commented. “I don’t know how you’re going to control it.”

Susan Harman asserted that if Planning is going to take something like this on, they need ideas for how they are going to fix it. She clarified that the process now is someone can call the police and lodge a complaint, although the complainant might not know what happens next.

Morris said one retail shop owner told him she would not open in the future on weekends like the recent one because her business was down 75 percent. He claimed he was not against motorcycles, but the nature of the town has changed with fewer things for families. “We have a problem,” he stated.

Harman responded she knows of merchants who said they had “the greatest weekend” because of the motorcycles. She suggested it could have instead been crowds for Diversity Weekend or the Great Passion Play, and there will be other groups. She returned to her point that to change something, there must be a plan. “We can be happy or unhappy, but we need a plan or it won’t go anywhere.” She added if a business wants to close for a weekend, that is a personal choice and there is nothing Planning can do.

Morris returned to his point that the city does not have certain things for families, and he is simply pointing out it is a problem. “The city needs to focus on something for those who live here, not just those who run businesses here,” he said.

Harman clarified she did not mean to imply there are not any legitimate noise complaints, “but we’re not here to fix the world.”

“We are gonna fix it,” Morris rebutted. “That’s why we’re here.”

Booth reminded commissioners of how much time went into preparing the existing Noise Ordinance, and wondered why they wanted to invent a new wheel. She also said comments about the Noise Ordinance should be directed to council, not Planning.

Commissioner Ann Sallee said council would be talking about noise, so Planning should wait and see what happens.