City council may not have to speak up about noise
The Glenwood Springs City Council can head off a dispute over noise downtown, but the parties involved might be able to do council one better.The council recently considered an ordinance exempting businesses inside commercial zones from the city’s noise ordinance. The ordinance would benefit the Bayou restaurant, which is relocating downtown. The Cajun-themed nightspot wants to offer live music. On the flip side is the restaurant’s neighbor, the Springs Theatre. The cinema’s owner said the ordinance would put him out of business if moviegoers can hear the music emanating from next door.By enforcing the ordinance, the city can send a message about what constitutes a vital downtown and what is acceptable there. Even though the city attorney said Glenwood Springs is seeking a way to maintain a vital downtown while protecting other businesses from noise, acting on the ordinance could suggest that the city is choosing between competing interests, both of which are vital to a vibrant downtown.Glenwood can have scientists in white coats outside the Bayou counting decibels, and it can have business owners submitting complaints about noise violations and other business owners drafting noise mitigation plans for review and approval by the city manager.Or it’s still possible for Glenwood Springs to hold that option as a last resort and encourage those competing interests to try and work out the problem themselves before involving city officials and scientists with electronic devices. It certainly seems like the Bayou and the Springs Theatre are going to be neighbors. Perhaps it’s too early to decide they can’t work together and find a solution to the problems they foresee before those become too contentious for them to work out.The situation downtown might be different for both parties, with the Springs Theatre fearing its new neighbor will be noisy and the Bayou giving up its West Glenwood location for a spot downtown. But it’s not unique to Glenwood Springs. People listen to live music at bars, and people watch movies downtown in any number of cities, and both activities contribute to a vibrant downtown because they draw people.But vitality is messy, and the more lively downtown Glenwood becomes, the more the city will have to find an equitable solution to similar conflicts. So the real question is, which would the city rather have as its main tool to solve them: a law or encouraging neighbors to at least try working together to see if they can coexist?The benefits are twofold: If the businesses find a way to coexist, they might also find that they actually benefit each other. And if they find a solution without getting the city involved in enforcing noise rules – even if they don’t build a mutually beneficial relationship – they’re providing a framework competing interests can use to solve future problems when elements of a vital downtown come into conflict. The benefits are twofold: If the businesses find a way to coexist, they might also find that they actually benefit each other. And if they find a solution without getting the city involved in enforcing noise rules – even if they don’t build a mutually beneficial relationship – they’re providing a framework competing interests can use to solve future problems when elements of a vital downtown come into conflict.
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