Noise ordinance curtails complaints, leads to tolerable concerts

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

During a recent concert in Metropolitan Park nearby residents braced themselves for the thumping that historically has infiltrated their otherwise quiet neighborhood during such mega-concert events. Instead, their trepidations were hushed by the results of Ordinance 2013-676-E, which amends the City’s noise ordinance, by setting restrictions to decibel levels and introducing other provisions designed to impede the sounds from outdoor concerts from permeating the insides of nearby homes.

In the past, Welcome to Rockville, the two-day mega-concert event, was a mega-headache for residents located in the St. Nicholas and South Shores neighborhoods who complained of vibrating windows, profanity and morning to night interruptions. Their frustration prompted the formation of the Metropolitan Park Ad-hoc Committee who worked with promoters and City Council to seek the harmony of compromise.

The amendment, which includes limitations on decibel levels and requires stages to face away from the river, appears to have resolved at least some of the noise that disrupted residents, such as Ginny Myrick who lives in St. Nicholas and was involved in the ad-hoc committee.

“Personally, it was a non-event for our household; no disturbance whatsoever,” said Myrick. “I was a bit skeptical on Friday during the sound checks that were going on, but when the concert started…it was a total surprise as nothing was heard on my patio.”

Myrick thinks reversing the stages away from the water may have helped.
District 4 Councilman Don Redman, who represents the St. Nicholas and South Shores neighborhoods, agrees that repositioning the stages has had a notable impact.
Although Redman did hear some complaints after the recent concert, he does think overall that things have improved with the compromise of the amendment.
“In general, I felt like we have accomplished something,” said Redman. “We set some new rules. They are more strict than what the promoters wanted and less strict than what the neighborhood wanted.”

George Kruer, who has lived in the South Shores neighborhood for more than 25 years, was grateful to be out of town during most of the mega-concert which he said in the past disrupted not only the quiet of his home, but caused physical vibrations as well.

“It was so miserable last year. It was unreasonable,” he explained. “It’s the reverberating of the bass that’s so invasive. You can’t just turn other things on in the house to camouflage that vibration.”

While Metropolitan Park is limited to 12 ticketed events a year, Kruer takes issue with the 2-day concert counting as one event and ultimately thinks another venue is more appropriate.
“Is this the perfect place for a rock concert?” he asked rhetorically. “No, these venues should be in an area in the middle of nowhere where other people are not affected by a 30-hour event.”

Still while he was only around to hear the most recent concert Sunday afternoon, he said he was pleased that his windows did not rattle and the event ended at a respectable hour.
According to Redman, the City has five monitors in place, which are paid for by the concert promoters to ensure that the sound is kept within the maximum allowed decibels of 105.
District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer said she has received positive feedback from both sides.

“I did not receive any complaints from the promoters or City staff with respect to recent events and have an email from a resident who indicated he was pleased with the solution,” explained Boyer.

While the ordinance appears to be a success, both Boyer and Redman feel like the ordinance can always be revised in the future if necessary.
“If we need to tweak it after a year, we can,” explained Redman. “Maybe we will need more restrictions; maybe less. We can always go back and fine-tune it.”

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