REMERTON -- Attempting to balance the concerns of city residents and the financial interests of bar owners, Remerton's City Council voted to amend the city's proposed noise ordinance on Monday to allow outdoor music for an additional hour on Friday and Saturday nights at local bars.
A stream of complaints from residents and property owners over the last two years prompted Remerton officials to revisit the town's existing noise ordinance that was viewed as too general and unenforceable. The proposal met fierce resistance from bar and restaurant owners who view outdoor entertainment as a crucial draw for their businesses.
Charles Darley, owner of Shuck 'Ems, petitioned Council at Monday's special called meeting to alter the ordinance. He asked for an additional hour on Wednesday and Thursday night and two additional hours on the weekend, saying those hours would "make a difference if I can stay in business or not."
Council compromised, amending the proposed ordinance to prohibit "musical instruments, speakers, and/or singing performed outside of a house, dwelling or business establishment of the city" after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after midnight on Friday and Saturday.
The final version of the ordinance will be voted on at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The ordinance also mandates music should not be heard more than 250 feet from a business at any time.
Councilwoman Vinita Bullard said she felt the ordinance was a fair compromise for all parties.
"It's really been tough to balance this out, because the residents feel like we're trying to stand behind the bar owners and the bar owners think we're trying to close them down," she said. "This is the fairest we can do without hurting either one. I think it's a real good compromise. There will still be some things that (are difficult), but we've finally got something that's acceptable by both group and enforceable."
Bullard said at least the residents and bar owners have been willing to work with each other on the issue, and Darley said he was happy the Council considered his concerns.
"They did work with me, and I appreciate them working with me," he said. "We are a string of businesses and are trying to make it work. (A 1 a.m. music cutoff) would have been a lot better for me on Saturday and Sunday, and if it starts hurting me, I'll try to get some people up and try to get (the ordinance) amended again. But we'll work with what we've got an try to make it work."
Shuck 'Ems is a newcomer to the battle after moving into Remerton six months ago. Other Remerton bar owners have already taken steps to curtail late-night noise.
Remerton's noise ordinance also covers noisy vehicles, excessively loud car stereo systems and pets -- limiting residents to no more than two animals outside the dwelling or three animals inside the house, not to exceed three animals total.
A first violation of the ordinance results in a verbal warning. A second complaint results in a summons to city court and a fine, while subsequent complaints on the same night trigger the automatic shutdown of music or performers for the evening.
To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.
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