Special Business District works on fixing noisy downtown problem

Friday, February 26, 2010 | 3:13 p.m. CST; updated 5:46 p.m. CST, Friday, February 26, 2010

COLUMBIA — Noise is a hot topic of debate with the Special Business District and was the topic of discussion at their public meeting Friday morning. 

The meeting was held to gather opinions on how to abate further problems with the proposed noise ordinance in downtown Columbia.


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Many people at the meeting were residents and business owners who are affected by noise from downtown. One concern brought up was how to judge what determines noise. The use of a decibel meter was suggested to create a more scientific way to make judgments.

Special Business District Director Carrie Gartner drew up a list of suggestions to alleviate noise issues downtown, such as business and resident orientation programs, special event noise permits and stronger restrictions on car stereos. 

Businesses, especially establishments open at night, expressed concern that police often fault the business for the noise rather than the patrons who are making it.

In addition, there was debate on distance regulations regarding noise rules. The current ordinance states that a person may not produce noise at a level that is "plainly audible" from 50 feet away between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Many agreed that the definition of "plainly audible" and the specified distance need some fine tuning.

Matt Istwan, managing partner of Deja Vu Comedy Club, asserted that some of the noise stems from the smoking ban in Columbia that forces patrons to go outside to smoke.

Many in attendance were advocates of the need to tailor the noise ordinance in order to best serve businesses and residents in the downtown area.

 The meeting concluded with the proposed next step of contacting Police Chief Kenneth Burton and the Columbia Police Department.

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