Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Proposed Noise Ordinance Causing Public Noise

Whitney Hare

Current Ordinance
Athens county residents want a new noise ordinance that will deal with Uptown businesses. The current city ordinance is targeted at residences and not businesses. Athens City Council has a difficult time enforcing the current law with business because determining the one person who is making the noise level too loud is almost impossible with the combination of music and multiple voices. So who pays the $1,000 when the noise ordinance is violated? See the bottom of this story for the full city ordinance.

Proposed Ordinance

The new ordinance would be targeted at businesses rather than residential areas. The proposed ordinance would close outdoor patios within 200 feet of a residential area at 10 o'clock on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Business owners like David Cornwell of Courtside Pizza think this new ordinance would affect his business. He says closing the patio before the restaurant would cause confusion and make him look like a bad business owner.

David Cornwell, Owner of Courtside Pizza

Public Reaction
The Athens Planning Commission held a public hearing on Thursday to see what the community members had to say about this issue. Those residents who attended were is divided on the issue at this point in time. Some believe it is necessary and want to be at peace in their homes. Others say this noise should be expected in a college town and enforcing an ordinance like this would hurt businesses that aren't causing any problems.

Dylan Armstrong, Athens Resident

Jim Sillery, Athens Resident

Who Would be Affected?
The ordinance would affect every establishment with outdoor patios, not just bars. Places like Donkey Coffee and O'Betty's which have outdoor tables would have to close their outdoor seating and potentially lose business if this ordinance took effect. Uptown establishments like Courtside and Broney's would most likely have to ask costumers to leave when the patios close because the inside of the locations are typically at capacity.

The next step for the Athens Planning Commission will be to draft an official ordinance and send it to City Council.

Double click on the ordinance page to see it full size.

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