Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary.

Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes from Fourth Street to Main Street.

The hearing before the City Council will be at City Hall at 4 p.m.

Councilman Chris Anderson said five speakers on each side would be allowed to speak to the council.

A number of Southside residents recently took Track 29 to City Court on the noise issue. The club, headed by Adam Kinsey, paid the fines and there was no hearing.

One Adams Street resident invited council members to come to his house after 9 p.m. to check out the sounds from Track 29.

Here is the ordinance:

To address recent comments from both citizens and business owners, the City Attorney’s Office has worked with more than a dozen stakeholders to produce the following Sound Ordinance. This Ordinance includes feedback, input and suggestions from both residents and business and accomplishes the following:

(1) Increases ability to enforce violations;
(2) introduces the dB(C) measurement as an additional method of measurement;
(3) creates a defined area of the City allowing establishments to apply for a permit to increase their allowable sound level;
(4) changes the method of measuring the sound output to the property line of the origin of the sound; and
(5) clearly defines the permitting process for those businesses located in the defined area that seek an exception to the sound level requirements.
? Sound Levels /Times
o Addition of maximum dB(C) levels: Present Code provisions limit only the dB(A) levels emitted by sound sources. The Code revision will set limits for dB(C) sound levels.
o Increased sound levels for businesses: Businesses located in the proposed Controlled Sound Boundary (“CSB”) may obtain a permit that will allow the business to emit sound at levels higher than the levels set forth in Code Sec. 25-69(a). Depending on the time of day, the proposed Code revisions will set forth a maximum dB(A) and dB(C) levels as measured at the property line of the business. Those businesses that obtain a permit will have to abide by those new sound levels and times. The new levels and times proposed are as follows:
Time (Monday –Thursday) Sound Level Limit dB(A) Sound Level Limit dB(C)

3:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.     55      NA
11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.   80       95
11:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.    65        80

Time (Friday – Sunday) Sound Level Limit dB(A) Sound Level Limit dB(C)

3:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  55   NA
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. 80  95
12:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.   65  80

Regulation and CSB Permitting Application Process
o Controlled Sound Boundary (“CSB”): The increased sound levels would only apply to those entities located in the CSB. The CSB area is shown on the map below:

o The Code revision will require that facilities that anticipate it will be unable to comply with the sound levels set forth in Code Sec. 25-69(a) must obtain a CSB Permit. Permits will only be issued within the CSB. A summary of the permitting process is found below:
? Persons desiring a CSB Permit shall apply to the Land Development Office with all required information;
? The application shall set forth all actions taken to comply with the noise level limits set forth in Code Sec. 25-69(a), the reasons why compliance cannot be feasibly achieved, the reasons for such determination, the actions that have been taken to comply with the noise level limits set forth in Code Sec. 25-69(a), a proposed method for complying as nearly as is feasible, and a proposed time schedule for its accomplishment.
? The application shall be accompanied by a fee. A separate application shall be filed for each sound source.
? The applicant shall send notice to each of the property owners within a minimum of 300 feet of each property for which a CSB Permit has been requested. The notice shall state all of the pertinent information and must be mailed at least fourteen (14) days prior to any action on the application by the Land Development Office. Notice shall also be published in a daily paper at least fourteen (14) days prior to any action on the application by the Land Development Office.
? Persons objecting to the relief sought by the applicant or interested in the review or determination made by the Land Development Office may likewise set forth their views and actual evidence in writing, signed by the objectors, and filed with the Land Development Office.
? The Land Development Office may grant a CSB Permit if the Land Development Office finds, after full consideration of all of the facts, that strict compliance with the noise level limits set forth in Code Sec. 25-69(a) will cause practical difficulties, unnecessary hardship, or unreasonable expense.
o A CSB Permit may be subject to any terms, conditions, and requirements as the Land Development Office deems reasonable to achieve maximum compliance with the provisions of the Controlled Sound Ordinance. The terms, conditions and requirements may include limitations on noise levels and operating hours.
o Each CSB Permit shall set forth the approved method of achieving maximum compliance and a time schedule for its accomplishment. The Land Development Office shall consider the magnitude of nuisance caused by the offensive noise, the uses of property within the area of impingement by the noise, the time factors related to study, design, financing and construction of remedial work, the economic factors related to age and useful life of equipment and the general public interest and welfare.
o Decisions of the Land Development Office may be appealed within ten (10) days to the Board of Controlled Sound Boundaries Permit Appeals.
? Enforcement
o City Court enforcement will remain unchanged as the penalties now in place are the maximum allowed under the Tennessee Constitution. The fine will be per violation.
o Facilities that have been allowed to exceed the Code Sec. 25-69(a) sound levels through the permitting process could have its permit suspended and/or revoke upon violations of sound level limits.
o Facilities that hold permits from city regulatory boards will be cited to that board if the facility violates the sound Code. The board will suspend or revoke the permit issued by that board. [This means, for example, that a violation of the sound Code will also result in a citation to the Beer Board. The Beer Board will either suspend or revoke the beer permit. Under Tennessee Law, the Beer Board must notify the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) of the Beer Board’s action and the TABC may take similar action.]
? Review
o There will be a one year review of the impact of the ordinance and permitting process presented to Council.
? Next Steps
o Public hearing on July 29, 2014 for presentation, comments, and review.
o First reading August 5, 2014.
o Coordinate with a consultant or city partner to advise on training on CSB permitting process.
o Complete draft of permit application and FAQ’s.

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