Noise ordinance 2016: Surveying the bedfellows, parsing the decibels.

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This time he waved and omitted the middle finger.

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”
― Jean Arp

For various reasons, none of them bad, the past few days have been disjointed for me. More than once I sat down and tried to begin writing about last week’s city council meeting, and especially the reconstituted noise ordinance, which was approved unanimously on its first and second readings.

The results were uninspiring.

In short, there seemed to be something eluding me about the ordinance, perhaps a missing piece of information. It was almost as though the noise ordinance, while sensible, prompted more questions than it answered — hence the most relevant joke I heard, that the most stringent noise ordinance on the planet can do nothing to curb the sheer volume of voices inside the heads of certain council members.

Just a few observations.

If the ordinance isn’t targeting specific entertainment venues, then why did the commentary of all four citizens in attendance focus exclusively on specific entertainment venues?

This probably was coincidental, and there are fireworks, roosters, boom cars and dogs to consider, but downtown food and drink businesses, however law abiding, have reason to be wary of unintended slippery slopes as they pertain to the future enforcement of such an ordinance.

That’s because City Hall has taken no steps to date to suggest that it intends to address the approaching friction, mild but palpable, of business district versus downtown residency needs, whether noise, parking or special events use.

Make no mistake, these constituencies absolutely need one another, and the city needs them both, but as with the example of Harvest Homecoming, it’s not a perfect marriage without city government’s active participation. Unfortunately, City Hall prefers ducking the tough questions, and so the noise ordinance is sure to arch more than a few eyebrows.

But the shock is this: The noise ordinance was not handed to the council from his majesty. Nor was it a Democratic Party creation. Furthermore, as citizen Peter Feimer (below) said, it can’t be expected to succeed without enforcement being pried from the partisan hands of the mayor’s hand-curated Board of Public Works.

Almost a shot across the bow, and yet, first and second readings were unanimous.

Strange days continue to find us. For the first time in forever, there is not a guaranteed majority for the Democrats on city council. The noise ordinance probably isn’t all that controversial a measure, but soon enough there’ll be one that is.

Then things are going to get interesting fairly quickly.

Coverage first from the C-J:

New Albany considers greater fines for noise violations, by Madeleine Winer (Courier-Journal)

… After two readings of the new ordinance, the council agreed unanimously to set the hours noise violations would be enforced to 10:30 p.m.-6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on weekends. It also agreed that businesses can apply for permits to be exempt from the rules three times per calendar year totaling up to six days. If businesses want to apply for more exemptions, council members agreed it would have to meet their approval.

(David) Barksdale said in an interview Wednesday that the changes in the noise ordinance were not targeting a specific venue, and that council members have received noise complaints from residents around the city. Both he and (Al) Knable said they hope the changes can streamline the ordinance and better clean up the city.

And then HEN:

New Albany moves forward on new noise ordinance, by Jerod Clapp (Hanson Entertainment News)

NEW ALBANY — Though unanimously passed on second reading, an updated noise ordinance for New Albany drew a lot of debate at Thursday’s city council meeting.

Al Knable, at-large councilman, said after noise from bars, other establishments and fireworks generated complaints from residents, the outdated ordinance didn’t give police the authority to act on many of those issues. He also said the fines outlined in the old version weren’t harsh enough, coming in at $50 for the first and $100 for subsequent complaints.

Some of those residents came to the meeting. Peter Feimer, 68, said he lives on Main Street near an establishment that regularly has loud music. He said while the last ordinance did a good job of addressing the issue in general, it simply didn’t have any teeth. He said special permits issued by the Board of Works bypass the ordinance that already exists.

“[One establishment] gets permits for virtually every weekend the entire summer long,” Feimer said. “For all of you who get my congratulations for writing a good ordinance in 2003, you made one terrible mistake. That is in the addendum to the ordinance, you gave your own Board of Public Works the authority to completely negate your law. That’s not right.”

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