The Hendersonville City Council may act to muffle the noise at downtown nightclubs but it won't be able to make law that applies to existing businesses.
The City Council last week heard a proposal from Councilman Ron Stephens on three possible ways to reduce the noise from clubs. Zoning changes won't apply to the club that has given rise to a neighborhood conflict, T's Blue Note Grille at 114 N. Main St. Residents in second floor condos told the City Council last month that the music from the Blue Note makes it impossible to watch TV, carry on a conversation or sleep.
The club owner and landlord say the club has been the subject of complaints but no citations. Police Chief Herbert Blake confirmed to the council that decibel readings had not shown a violation.
"Downtown is obviously moving. If you go downtown at night, there's a lot of activity," Stephens said. "We've got to create a situation where businesses can operate and people can live."
Stephens did his own research, listening outside the Blue Note one night recently when a band was playing on the ground floor. The club also has bands play upstairs, which has been the subject of the complaints.
Stephens suggested three possible remedies: limiting music to the ground floor (residential living downtown so far has been mostly limited to condos or apartments on the second floor or higher), soundproofing the ceiling of music clubs, and requiring clubs to keep their doors closed.
"I think that during the time they're operating they need to have an attendant, we used to call it a bouncer, by the door to keep it closed," he said.
City Manager Bo Ferguson asked council members whether they wanted the staff to craft an ordinance to reduce the noise based on Stephens' ideas. Council members agreed, at least for discussion purposes.
"That would give staff something very specific to research," Ferguson said. Staff members have had limited success calling other towns to get their take on noise abatement. "We haven't gotten very far with that approach getting good answers," he said.
The council could change the law governing how loud a nightclub could be, applying to every location from that day on. But "anything we do with the zoning ordinance would not be retroactive," Ferguson said.
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