published Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

City eyes boosting sound limits in parts of downtown Chattanooga

  • photo
    Residents who live near Track 29 say loud music from concerts at the site can be oppressive.
    Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SOUND LEVELS

Monday-Thursday:

Time -- Sound level limit/Bass level limit

• 3 a.m.–11 a.m. -- 55/n/a

• 11 a.m.–11 p.m. -- 80/95

• 11 p.m.–3 a.m. -- 65/80

On the weekend:

Sound Level Limit / Bass level limit

• 3 a.m.–11 a.m. -- 55/n/a

• 11 a.m.–12 a.m. -- 80/95

• 12 a.m.–3 a.m. -- 65/ 80

OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS

• City Council unanimously approved the liquor-by-the-drink tax agreement with Hamilton County Schools that pays the school system back the $11.7 million in six payments and also gives the school the former Poss Homes site and a YMCA swimming pool.

• Mayor Andy Berke’s office agreed to a new agreement with Eastgate Town Center’s management to allow the seniors to keep their program at the center for one more year rent-free, on the condition that the city pays to soundproof the building and pay a $500 fee if seniors violate a decibel level set by the management.

City's Sound Ordinance
City's Sound Ordinance
  • photo
    Chattanooga City Council plan to allow higher noise limits in certain parts of downtown.
    Illustration by Laura McNutt.

From Hair of the Dog on the corner of Market and Fourth streets past Track 29 off Main Street, the city is proposing a sound ordinance that would allow the bars and music venues in this defined area to crank up their music much louder until midnight on the weekends and 11 p.m. on weekdays.

The ordinance would create a sound district that proponents say could help the Scenic City’s night life flourish and allow venues to play music at decibel levels of 80 — comparable to the sound of an alarm clock — and a bass decibel level of 95 on the weekend until midnight if business owners acquire a permit. The level after 9 p.m. is currently 50 decibels anytime of the week outside the building.

Yet Southside residents, who pushed for an ordinance more than a year ago after fighting with Track 29 owners over consistent noise complaints, are apprehensive of the ordinance. They say the enforcement tool that could allow the city to revoke the noise permit and after multiple violations revoke the owner’s beer permit and creating a bass decibel level is a step in the right direction.

But whether this ordinance will let them sleep at night is yet to be seen, said Southside resident Deb Royal.

City Attorney Wade Hinton, who is on the mayor’s appointed task force to study the city’s entertainment options, said the proposal is a good compromise that takes into account both sides. The permit process would require the property owner to send out a notice to any property owners within 300 feet of the site before the owner could get a permit.

Whether you’re part of the residents trying to call Track 29 to the carpet or supporters of creating a higher noise level, the City Council is giving residents — 10 total — a chance to speak up.

A campaign to support Track 29 and a new louder sound ordinance, led by owner Adam Kinsey, son of former Mayor Jon Kinsey, has gained about 2,600 signatures.

Only five people opposed and another for the ordinance will get a chance to speak at the 4 p.m. hearing next week after City Council members get a chance to ask the city attorney their questions. Residents will get a final chance to speak their mind at City Council’s 6 p.m. meeting before the ordinance is voted on Aug. 5.

John Susman, who works with Chattanooga Presents — which organizes Nightfall summer concert series, and is a cousin of Kinsey — said the idea of a specific area for musicians to have more freedom is a good chance for the city’s music life to get better and grow downtown. The noise levels are compatible with other cities and is just part of the “growing pains” of a city trying to expand, he said.

But if the City Council wants to make a level-headed decision they first need to hear and feel what high decibel levels are like by standing on Adams Street and listening to a Track 29 concert after 9 p.m., said Mike Royal, Deb’s husband, before he publicly invited every council member to join them Tuesday night.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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