The City Council on Tuesday night cut the projected noise level for a new downtown club district, but not as much as requested by Councilman Moses Freeman. He represents neighbors of Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo - some of whom have been complaining about noise from the club.
The projected level was 95 dBC, which for the first time measures bass levels. Councilman Freeman recommended dropping to 85 dBC, but he picked up the vote only of Councilman Chris Anderson. The council settled on 90 dBC.
The current top noise level in the city is 55 dBA, which does not measure the bass. A noise expert, who set up a noise test in the City Hall chambers for the council on Tuesday afternoon, said it is the bass "that slips out of the building and into the neighborhood."
Councilman Freeman, saying he had heard the concerns of numerous Southside residents and made many forays himself outside the clubs, said, "I am disappointed that you did not accept my recommendation. I feel pretty bad right now."
In another amendment, the council voted to move the northern boundary from Fourth Street to Seventh Street. Chairman Chip Henderson said that would provide more of a buffer from the club district for the "family-friendly section" nearer the river.
He noted that the measure comes up for review after a year, and he said the council could change the district lines later. "It's always easier to enlarge a district than to shorten it, he said.
An amendment by Councilman Russell Gilbert was approved to officially name the district the Downtown Amplified Sound District. He and several other council members said they want to ensure that the change only applies to the downtown district and not to their outlying areas. They also said they do not want it to set a precedent.
A new three-member board will oversee the ordinance and have the power to revoke the permit of clubs that continue to go above the noise levels. Under an amendment by Councilman Anderson, one member will be named by the District 7 councilman and another by the District 8 councilman. The council chairman will name the third at-large member.
Clubs within the district will have to sign up for a permit.
The council will vote next Tuesday night on first reading on the new ordinance.