Item No. 2 - Noise Ordinance

Review permit process established in this Ordinance and to recommend potential amendments to such process to address concerns raised by a Wheat Ridge business
This is a recording of the April 5, 2021 City Council study session

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Staff Memo ( 0.94 MB )

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This case is closed, online commenting is no longer available.
Online comments closed at 12:00 PM MDT 4/5/21.
Last fall, our neighborhood rejoiced in the City Council's updated Noise Ordinance. It promised to rescue us from the loud music from the TBird Roadhouse intruding into our lives every weekend. Now, we are under threat again. Please hold the line on 6 permits! Anything more would be detrimental to our quality of life in Wheat Ridge.  I have yet to hear any arguments that suggest continuous amplified sound events enhance the surrounding community! Instead, we debate what would be "acceptable damage"! Changes to the noise ordinance would only enhance the pockets of business owners. People speaking in favor of this do not live in close proximity to these businesses. They can leave when they want. We cannot. Please keep our concerns under consideration when discussing this topic.  Thank you! 
April 5, 2021, 9:07 AM
Kathryn Emmack
PUBLIC COMMENT Re: NOISE ORDINANCE, CITY OF WHEAT RIDGE April 5, 2021 Study Session I am concerned about Council's plans to re-examine the Wheat Ridge noise ordinance, passed in 2020, that places certain restrictions on electronically amplified music (both recorded and live), played outside various venues, such as bars, restaurants and and other social gathering places. I live at 7060 West 39th Avenue, one block north of West 38th Avenue, and within three blocks of four existing bars and restaurants, as well as one planned brew pub not yet open, and the "Green" on 38th, which is slated to be developed into an entertainment/activity center by the City of Wheat Ridge, and will include a stage and sound equipment. If each of these bars, restaurants and entertainment areas is granted 6 permits per year allowing amplified music outdoors on weekends, my neighborhood will be host to at least 24 evenings of amplified music per year--almost a full month. And that's only if the outside entertainment is limited to the six warmest months of the year. Several years ago, during a Ridge Fest celebration, my neighbors and I spent an entire afternoon listening to a polka band (amplified) performing on the "Green" and a blue grass band, (also amplified), performing near 38th and Reed Street. Lest you think I'm an "old fogey" let me explain that I am part of the generation that came of age at the same time technology allowed electric amplification. I love blue grass as much as anyone--young or old--and, having grown up in Wisconsin, have experienced a variety of polka bands. However, never have I experienced both at the same time in some sort of weird "battle of the bands." Since this ordinance passed after the beginning of the pandemic lock down, I'm curious about what economic basis the various bars are using to back up their statements regarding loss of revenue. Last year was unique in that bars and restaurants were able to open only for limited numbers of patrons, and no doubt the majority experienced a loss of revenue. Before Council modifies its ordinance, I'd like to know what other cities in the metro Denver area do in regard to permitting outdoor amplified music by bars and restaurants (and other non-public entities) within their jurisdictions. Thank you, Kathy Havens
April 4, 2021, 6:15 PM
Kathryn Havens
From Michael Hult, submitted by Steve Keller Dear Mayor and Council Members, For 30 years I have lived in a house located on Iris St., just south of the Dairy Queen and about 200 ft southwest of a bar at 44th Ave. and Independence St. During the period from 2011 through late 2020, during the fair-weather months, I suffered from frequent and obnoxiously loud noise from live bands playing outdoors on the bar’s patio. During 2020 the bands often played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. The noise inside my home, even with the doors and windows closed, was unbearable. During spring and summer of 2020 several attempts by myself and neighbors to negotiate with the bar manager were snubbed. As a result, it was necessary to make several noise disturbance complaints to the WRPD. The new 2020 noise ordinance, with a six-permit-per-year limit on outdoor amplified sound events, has been a lifesaver for my situation. Now I can look forward to being at peace in my home without being assaulted by excessive noise every weekend. The City Council should definitely retain the six-permit limit for the sake of keeping this neighborhood a desirable place to live. Best regards, Michael Hult 4365 Iris St. Wheat Ridge
April 4, 2021, 11:10 AM
Stephen M. Keller
Dear Council Members, Thank you very much for your deliberations and considerations in your adoption of the new city noise ordinance designed in Dec. of 2019 and adopted in Aug. 2020. Having attended both meetings, I am impressed with the time and thought you gave in fairly writing a noise ordinance that creates a balance between the homeowners in your districts and the businesses providing outdoor amplified music, either bands or sound systems. Sound systems often continue until midnight, but in our case, the nearby business is planning using the sound system until at 2am. I feel we should let the current noise ordinance move forward this year and not amend the number of permits. We are not even giving this new ordinance a chance to be implemented as designed. It is worth noting that in the city survey 73% of the respondents stated they do not live near a loud music venue, meaning they do not have first hand knowledge of the effects of unwanted noise intrusion into their homes. We do. Moe Keller
April 3, 2021, 2:29 PM
Moe Kelle
Public Comment on the Noise Ordinance: Wheat Ridge City Council Study Session, April 5, 2021 From Moe and Steve Keller, April 2, 2021 Background Our neighborhood is on Iris St. and Iris Ct. immediately south of 44th Ave. On weekend afternoons and evenings, from spring through fall over most of the last ten years, we and our neighbors (five households in all) suffered persistent and obnoxiously loud noise from frequent outdoor live amplified music events put on by a business at 44th Ave. and Independence St. The live music could be heard in our front and back yards and within our homes even with the doors and windows closed. Also, during summer 2020 an outdoor sound system was in use at this business for several nights per week and could be heard in our own home until as late as 10:00 PM. This frequent noise burden was distracting and distressing, and was more than a neighborhood should have to tolerate. The noise deprived us of the peace we previously knew and also impaired the enjoyment of our property. The noise was the subject of numerous complaints from the neighborhood to the Wheat Ridge Police Department (WRPD) over the years. During the period from 2011 through late 2020 the WRPD was hesitant to cite the above business for disturbing the peace, because the old version of the Wheat Ridge noise ordinance was unclear in defining the nature of a noise disturbance. This situation changed in August 2020 when the City Council adopted a revised ordinance that now places outdoor amplified sound events (live or sound system) under a permit system. Permits now are unambiguously limited to six events per year for a given location. The City Council chose the number of six permits after careful deliberation, including public input, that began in December 2019 and concluded in August 2020. The six-permit limit allows us to have peace during most weekends of spring through fall, instead of being assaulted by excessive noise every weekend. We do not want to regress to what we had before the revised ordinance was passed. Arguments for Retaining the Permit System and the Present Number of Permits Our neighborhood, and other neighborhoods that might in the future be within hearing distance of outdoor amplified sound events, now have some protection from noise being imposed upon them against their will. The limit of six events per year is very reasonable. It allows businesses and residences an opportunity to occasionally have outdoor loud live music or sound systems, while it protects nearby residents from the obnoxious frequency of such events. We emphatically endorse retaining the existing permit system and its limit of six permits. The present ordinance could allow (for example) one event per month from late spring into early fall, at a given location. Six permits are tolerable but more than six should not be allowed, because outdoor loud live music events or sound systems, where the originating locations adjoin or lie or within residential neighborhoods, should be the exception and not the rule. A business model of frequent events is a poor fit where the business adjoins a residential neighborhood. Such a model forces neighborhoods to give up too much of their peace and quiet. (We point out that the present ordinance applies only to outdoor amplified sound events and does not limit indoor events.) We understand that certain Wheat Ridge businesses believe that six permits per year is too low a number, that this restriction may deprive them of revenue, and that the present ordinance should be compromised by increasing the number of permits. We strongly disagree with this view for two important reasons. First, a business does not have an inherent right to impose unwanted noise on an adjacent neighborhood such that the quality of life nearby is degraded and the livability of the neighborhood is threatened. “My rights end where they infringe upon your rights” is an established American principle. Second, a compromise already has been reached in that the six permits are allowed. With six permits a neighborhood is already giving up six days per year of the peace and quiet it previously enjoyed. More than this should not be taken away. Contrary to the implications in some comments in the What’s Up Wheat Ridge noise survey, businesses were not “ambushed” by the 2020 noise ordinance. A business should perform due diligence with a municipality before undertaking a program of frequent, loud outdoor live music events. Even with six permits per year per location a multiplier effect could occur. If two or more businesses relatively close together on a given length of commercial street each begin to have six outdoor, loud live music events per year, it is probable that some nearby neighborhoods would experience many more than six events per year. This would certainly not make such neighborhoods more desirable and would detract from the quality of life that Wheat Ridge residents have come to enjoy. We ask the City Council to value the peace and livability of our Wheat Ridge neighborhoods as the noise ordinance is deliberated. Moe and Steve Keller 4325 Iris St. Wheat Ridge
April 2, 2021, 4:13 PM
Stephen M. Keller
Public Comment on the Noise Ordinance: Wheat Ridge City Council Study Session, April 5, 2021 From Moe and Steve Keller, April 2, 2021 Background Our neighborhood is on Iris St. and Iris Ct. immediately south of 44th Ave. On weekend afternoons and evenings, from spring through fall over most of the last ten years, we and our neighbors (five households in all) suffered persistent and obnoxiously loud noise from frequent outdoor live amplified music events put on by a business at 44th Ave. and Independence St. The live music could be heard in our front and back yards and within our homes even with the doors and windows closed. Also, during summer 2020 an outdoor sound system was in use at this business for several nights per week and could be heard in our own home until as late as 10:00 PM. This frequent noise burden was distracting and distressing, and was more than a neighborhood should have to tolerate. The noise deprived us of the peace we previously knew and also impaired the enjoyment of our property. The noise was the subject of numerous complaints from the neighborhood to the Wheat Ridge Police Department (WRPD) over the years. During the period from 2011 through late 2020 the WRPD was hesitant to cite the above business for disturbing the peace, because the old version of the Wheat Ridge noise ordinance was unclear in defining the nature of a noise disturbance. This situation changed in August 2020 when the City Council adopted a revised ordinance that now places outdoor amplified sound events (live or sound system) under a permit system. Permits now are unambiguously limited to six events per year for a given location. The City Council chose the number of six permits after careful deliberation, including public input, that began in December 2019 and concluded in August 2020. The six-permit limit allows us to have peace during most weekends of spring through fall, instead of being assaulted by excessive noise every weekend. We do not want to regress to what we had before the revised ordinance was passed. Arguments for Retaining the Permit System and the Present Number of Permits Our neighborhood, and other neighborhoods that might in the future be within hearing distance of outdoor amplified sound events, now have some protection from noise being imposed upon them against their will. The limit of six events per year is very reasonable. It allows businesses and residences an opportunity to occasionally have outdoor loud live music or sound systems, while it protects nearby residents from the obnoxious frequency of such events. We emphatically endorse retaining the existing permit system and its limit of six permits. The present ordinance could allow (for example) one event per month from late spring into early fall, at a given location. Six permits are tolerable but more than six should not be allowed, because outdoor loud live music events or sound systems, where the originating locations adjoin or lie or within residential neighborhoods, should be the exception and not the rule. A business model of frequent events is a poor fit where the business adjoins a residential neighborhood. Such a model forces neighborhoods to give up too much of their peace and quiet. (We point out that the present ordinance applies only to outdoor amplified sound events and does not limit indoor events.) We understand that certain Wheat Ridge businesses believe that six permits per year is too low a number, that this restriction may deprive them of revenue, and that the present ordinance should be compromised by increasing the number of permits. We strongly disagree with this view for two important reasons. First, a business does not have an inherent right to impose unwanted noise on an adjacent neighborhood such that the quality of life nearby is degraded and the livability of the neighborhood is threatened. “My rights end where they infringe upon your rights” is an established American principle. Second, a compromise already has been reached in that the six permits are allowed. With six permits a neighborhood is already giving up six days per year of the peace and quiet it previously enjoyed. More than this should not be taken away. Contrary to the implications in some comments in the What’s Up Wheat Ridge noise survey, businesses were not “ambushed” by the 2020 noise ordinance. A business should perform due diligence with a municipality before undertaking a program of frequent, loud outdoor live music events. Even with six permits per year per location a multiplier effect could occur. If two or more businesses relatively close together on a given length of commercial street each begin to have six outdoor, loud live music events per year, it is probable that some nearby neighborhoods would experience many more than six events per year. This would certainly not make such neighborhoods more desirable and would detract from the quality of life that Wheat Ridge residents have come to enjoy. We ask the City Council to value the peace and livability of our Wheat Ridge neighborhoods as the noise ordinance is deliberated. Moe and Steve Keller 4325 Iris St. Wheat Ridge
April 2, 2021, 4:08 PM
Stephen M. Keller
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