Silence is golden
The owner of the Springs Theatre in Glenwood Springs says noise from live music that the Bayou restaurant hopes to offer next door would put him out of business.Springs owner John Buxman also contends that a proposed city ordinance only makes it harder for him to stop Bayou owner Steve Beham’s plans.The ordinance is scheduled for consideration by Glenwood Springs City Council tonight.The city proposal would exempt business activities within commercial zone districts from the city’s existing noise ordinance “provided such business makes reasonable effort to contain any noise produced by the business within the confines of the business premises.”City officials seem willing to do anything to get the Bayou downtown, Buxman said. “The fact that it’s going to run me out of business has no effect on them.”City attorney Karl Hanlon said the ordinance isn’t designed to protect the Bayou, but is based on community interests as a whole.”I think it provides some measures to any property owner” when noise concerns arise, he said.”We’re trying to balance all of those interests without sticking our hand into everything that everybody is doing.”Hanlon said what Beham is proposing is permitted at the downtown location. The city is seeking a way to protect others from noise while maintaining downtown’s vitality, which includes allowing for live music, Hanlon said.If a business is convicted twice of a noise violation, it would be required to submit a noise mitigation plan to the city manager for review and approval.Beham is moving the Bayou from its longtime home in West Glenwood. Buxman worries that live music at the new downtown location will be audible to movie-goers.The new ordinance “creates a noise free-for-all during that 18-hour period,” Buxman said.The requirement that a reasonable effort be made to contain noise “doesn’t solve anything. All it does is relieve them of any obligation for what they have done,” Buxman said.Hanlon said the goal of the ordinance is to get people to work together when noise issues arise.”Mandating doesn’t foster community spirit,” he said.Beham said the best solution to Buxman’s noise concerns is for the two of them to work together. Ideally, he said, he’d like to see an ordinance that addresses something concrete like decibel levels. The proposed ordinance leaves “a whole lot of gray area.”He supports the ordinance, but said time will tell if it will work.”I’m definitely hopeful for it, but it truly comes down to the neighbors getting along, trying to work with each other. It can’t be one-sided.”Beham said he’s willing to put off bringing in bands until Buxman’s concerns can be resolved. He said he’s also willing to have bands not start playing until after 11 p.m., when current noise rules would remain in effect, but when there’s also less likely to be complaints.Beham said his building already has an eight-inch-wide cinderblock wall and six inches of soundproofing, and there are four inches between the building and the Springs.Beham believes the Bayou will help the Springs rather than hurt it.”I also understand John’s fear of the unknown,” he said.Buxman said Wednesday he only found out that day, in a public notice in the Post Independent, that the noise ordinance is scheduled to be considered by City Council at its meeting tonight. He said the ordinance would affect not only him but other downtown businesses, yet is being pushed through during the holidays, at a time when few of them are aware of it and many are out of town or too busy to attend tonight’s meeting. Downtown businesses have committed to remain open this evening as a holiday promotion.Hanlon said there were no ulterior motives in the timing of the ordinance proposal. He added that if it passes on first reading, it would still have to go back to council for a second reading before it could be adopted.Buxman was surprised that the ordinance is being proposed, after attending a council work session on the matter in early November. He believed the matter was left “completely unsettled” then. But Hanlon said his understanding from council was that it wanted to see an ordinance drafted for consideration.”Council will deal with it as they will,” he said.Both Buxman and city officials say the issue goes beyond the Bayou and Springs Theatre. Noise concerns have arisen elsewhere downtown.”Unfortunately, it affects everyone in the downtown core,” Buxman said.”The future of the downtown is what’s at stake here,” and not just the fate of the Springs, he said.The Hotel Denver has complained that music at the nearby Roxie nightclub has kept its patrons from being able to sleep, city officials say.Hanlon said Buxman always has the option of suing Beham if noise threatens his business.Beham said the most important thing for the Bayou is for it to serve food, not host bands.”But I truly believe Glenwood needs a nightlife. There’s nothing going on,” he said.”Unfortunately, noise is a bad word. I’m saying I want to have entertainment. It’s not noise.”Beham had hoped to have the Bayou open by now, but he is continuing to work with the city to obtain approvals on the building remodeling and has pushed the target date back to Feb. 1.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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