Columbia City Council softens downtown noise ordinance

Monday, May 17, 2010 | 10:24 p.m. CDT; updated 8:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 18, 2010

COLUMBIA – No one gets everything they want, but most people were finally in agreement about changes to the downtown noise ordinance at a City Council meeting Monday night.

The council unanimously passed an ordinance that will lessen the regulations regarding downtown noise.

The bill amends the existing noise ordinance in the following ways:

  • On weekdays, noise will be prohibited extending beyond 300 feet from the source from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; 150 feet from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and 50 feet from 1:30 to 7 a.m.
  • On weekends, noise will be prohibited extending beyond 300 feet from the source from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; 150 feet from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and 50 feet from 1:30 to 7 a.m.

The previous ordinance prohibited noise heard from 100 feet away during the day and 50 feet at night. Days of the week were not considered.

The bill was proposed in 2009 and came to its current form after much consideration and many changes.

"The extra time gave us a lot of opportunity to pull extra people into the process," said Carrie Gartner, director of the Special Business District. "I think this does two things: It gives bars and entertainment venues a little more leeway when it comes to noise, but it also adds some protections for residents in that the outdoor music does have some limits to it."

Tom Atkinson, majority owner of Shiloh Bar and Grill, said he was in agreement with the ordinance amendments as a starting point.

"It's not exactly what we wanted, but compromise means a little give and take," Atkinson said.

Atkinson said that he was a little concerned about the time cut off of 1:30 a.m.

"This is the time when the bars are required to have all their patrons out," he said. "Outside, there are still a big amount of people waiting for rides and cabs. I don't want to see ticketing for patrons downtown spending money."

Gartner is also concerned about people gathered haphazardly on the sidewalks after bars close.

"We would like to start working on a taxi stands ordinance where people are standing in line and not just milling about blocking sidewalks," Gartner said. "First things first, though."

First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz commended all the work done on the project and said that this is a testament to the positive effects that tabling an ordinance can have. He did question Atkinson about the future of what he dubbed "the great wall of Shiloh."

Atkinson said, "I'm pretty confident that with the passing of this ordinance, we could control people without the wall."

Missourian reporter Abby Rogers contributed to this report.

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