City passes noise ordinance
Despite a plea from a music promoter who says he'll probably have to cancel some patio shows, the city of Charlottesville amended its noise ordinance tonight to empower police to use mobile sound-meters to clamp down on music over 75 decibels.
"We saw this as one more tool," said City Manager Gary O'Connell, shortly before the
unanimous 4-1 vote (Mayor Dave Norris was the dissenter) to stop late night noise from escaping from area clubs and restaurants.
City resident and music promoter Jeyon Falsini had urged the Council not to do anything to harm the city's smaller musical events, which he called "the backbone" of the local music scene.
"Names like Sparky's Flaw and Sons of Bill, they've all been plucked from the small venues in town," said Falsini. "[The ordinance] would seriously impede what is growing to be a large music business in town."
The new ordinance limits sound levels to 75 db(A) when measured outside a restaurant after 11pm. (Update 3/4: The City's top planner Jim Tolbert, clarifies that the new ordinance limits sound levels in the downtown area to 75 db(A) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (the Downtown Business District was subject only to a nighttime restriction of 75 db(A) from 10pm to 6am Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01am to 6am on Friday and Saturday), and from 11pm to 6am (originally 10pm to 6am) in all other parts of the city.)
Tolbert, mentioning the Downtown Mall's existing noise ordinance, told Councilors that simply closing the front door of a venue–- he mentioned Miller's–- typically suffices to reduce outdoor sound levels to the legal level.
"I don't think it will have a negative impact," said Tolbert. "It hasn't on the Mall."
Belmont neighborhood resident Kimber Hawkey called the ordinance "laudable" but also called it "laughable" since the biggest open-air music venue, the Charlottesville Pavilion, because it's neither a residence nor a restaurant, appears exempt from the ordinance, even though it rattles her house. Opera singer Allison Ruffner seconded that complaint.
After the vote, Falsini came back to the lectern to say that he'll probably be forced to cancel the patio shows he has booked under the canopy at Mono Loco restaurant.