by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
November 25, 2008 MILTON - City Council apparently will take personal field trips to the Bethany Creek subdivision to determine if changing the city's noise ordinance will do anything to quell the battle that's been brewing over music bleeding from Montana's Bar and Grill into homes in the area.Montana's has been cited just once for violating Milton's nighttime 60 decibel cap.
Residents in Bethany Creek, which backs up to the popular restaurant, routinely call police to complain about the noise.To try and fix the problem, Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom and City Attorney Ken Jarrard proposed in October lowering the allowable night time decibels from 60 to 55, which Lagerbloom said would match several local municipalities' laws.
Montana's owner Cary Eubanks said publicly he believes changing the ordinance constitutes his business being "railroaded."At its meeting Nov. 17, City Council heard from Eubanks, Bethany Creek residents and a number of business owners and homeowners from all over Milton, each with an opinion on changing the city's standing noise ordinance by five decibels.
"We have done everything possible, and we have been within the ordinance," said Eubanks. "I just don't know what else to do. I just don't think it's fair."He implored council to visit Montana's and listen for themselves before voting on a law change that could potentially put him and his 25 employees out of business.
Board of Zoning Appeals chairwoman Sandy Jones — speaking simply as a citizen — is a Bethany Creek resident. She said there wasn't a problem in the area until Montana's opened its former greenhouse venue. Jones said the change to the law doesn't keep Montana's from playing live music, it simply "alleviates the intrusion our families experience." She also invited council to her living room so they could feel the vibrations at 11 p.m.
Mayor Joe Lockwood was skeptical a five decibel change could be decided without real world experience."As I listen through, I'm not really sure what five decibels does, and as I listen to residents, I hear about vibrations. I wonder if that's just the type of tone," said Lockwood.
"Before we make a decision that affects our whole city, I want to see if it makes any difference or not."
Lockwood asked if council would defer the decision, and Councilwoman Karen Thurman put forth the motion to postpone the decision until Dec. 15."I would like to see for myself what it is like from the property line," she said. "I value my sleep tremendously, and I'm sure other people do, too."Councilman Bill Lusk agreed."I don't see how we could sit up here and objectively evaluate a five decibel differential out there," he said.The vote to defer the decision was unanimous.