NEWS-Horning in: How that Council meeting got noisy

When Bill Emory brought an amplifier and a tape recording of a loud truck to the Charlottesville city council meeting on Monday night, the well known photographer and neighborhood archivist simply hoped to help Councilors understand how disruptive traffic noise can be. But what was planned as an "informative show and tell," Emory says, instead became a "stupid spectacle" that he deeply regrets.

Emory says he and several other Market Street residents had planned to play the recording at the meeting as part of their presentation detailing traffic concerns in their Woolen Mills neighborhood.

During a speech by resident Steve Riggs, Emory– who is hearing impaired– says he impulsively pushed the recorder's "play" button, startling the audience and Council members alike.

"By the time I finally looked around," Emory recalls, "I saw that David Brown had the gavel in his hand. It took me a second to register that I wasn't being helpful, that I was basically being horribly disruptive and that I was hurting our neighborhood. That wasn't my intention at all."

Mayor Brown, to whom Emory has since apologized, raised his gavel and called a 10-minute recess.

Brown, who admits he was angry over the disruption and says he needed the break to cool off– says he's accepted Emory's apology and is focused on considering the Woolen Mills' concerns.

But noise is just one of those concerns, says Emory's neighbor on Market Street, Betty Jo Dominick, who also spoke at the meeting.

Dominick and Emory say Mapquest directs out-of-town drivers to use Franklin Street, a narrow road that passes under a trestle carrying CSX tracks, as a shortcut from Carlton Avenue to Market Street. Trucks aren't the neighbors only trouble.

Cars often speed through the narrow, curving road, Dominick says, and several vehicles have accidentally invaded the yard on the north side of Market across from Franklin. On July 23, a vehicle actually smashed into the house there.

Dominick says she and other neighbors would like to see signs prohibiting large trucks from using Franklin, and they'd like the street one-wayed from Market to Carlton. "That would cut out half the traffic," she says.

Brown says Council is considering a variety of fixes, and plans to continue soliciting input from Woolen Mills residents as well as businesses and residents on Carlton Avenue and Broadway, the roads which Franklin connects.

As for Emory, he says he won't be disrupting any future council meetings.

"I just totally screwed up," he says. "The story isn't supposed to be about how Bill Emory disrupted the Council meeting; the story is supposed to be about the cut-through traffic."

Bill Emory