On Monday, the Columbia City Council tabled an ordinance aimed at relaxing the city’s noise restrictions downtown.
The ordinance was originally proposed in September of 2009. It was in large a reaction to a dispute between Shiloh Bar & Grill at Broadway and Fourth Street and a resident who lives on the other side of Broadway. Rick Rother complained about the loud noise coming from the bar, which prompted its owner to build an 8-foot plywood fence facing Broadway to prevent noise from traveling across the street.
Under the ordinance, the definition of a noise violation would change from the current one, which says a violation occurs if any noise can be heard from at least 50 feet away between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The proposed limits would increase that distance by as much as six times, 300 feet, depending on the time and day.
The ordinance raises the question of whom the city should be protecting: business owners who benefit from keeping their restaurants and bars open late or residents seeking quiet in their homes.
Should the city council pass an ordinance that would loosen noise restrictions downtown? Should the city be more concerned with the preferences of business owners or downtown residents?