Aspen City Council scales back downtown noise changes
Ryan Summerlin May 28, 2014
The Aspen City Council agreed Tuesday with a scaled-back version of changes to the town’s noise ordinance, with one board member saying that there was a fervor in the room when initial changes were proposed in April.
During the April 22 work session, the council majority subscribed to a “louder, longer and livelier” Aspen, proposing changes that would have created an around-the-clock noise allowance of 65 decibels in the downtown core.
Current ordinance language allows for 65 decibels before 9 p.m. After that, allowance drops to 60 decibels.
In April’s proposal, the council also voiced support for closed-door readings when complaints are made, meaning police would record inside the affected party’s property with all windows and doors shut.
Environmental Health Director C.J. Oliver’s scaled-back version, which he presented Tuesday, calls for two additional hours for nighttime noise, pushing the cutoff for 65 decibels back to 11 p.m. After that, noise allowance would drop to 60 decibels until 7 a.m. Oliver also suggested taking noise readings at the property line of the affected party. Currently, readings are taken at the source’s property line.
The entire council — minus Councilwoman Ann Mullins, who was absent — concurred with Oliver. Mayor Steve Skadron and Dwayne Romero agreed their initial response might have been overenthusiastic.
“This accomplishes our objective but is a little less aggressive and enthusiastic than council’s enthusiasm at the work session,” Skadron said.
“Yeah, there was a bit of fervor that night,” Romero responded. “I think we were screaming, too, while we were at it, like ‘whoo-whoo!’ — way too high with the microphones up.”
Tuesday’s proposed changes will be subject to public comment on June 9, when the council is expected to take an official vote.
Barbara Young, who has lived at 210 E. Hyman Ave. for 12 years, asked whether her property falls in the downtown core or residential district. Like her, she said, many of her neighbors are concerned about boosting volumes.
Oliver explained that Young lives in the lodging district where limits are 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night. He added that her concern is a perfect example of why readings should be taken at the complainant’s property line rather than the source’s.
Young said that she has never had to call police on any downtown restaurants, as bar owners are pretty responsive whenever she addresses them directly with concerns.
The proposed changes stem, in part, from a dispute that played out in Aspen Municipal Court in January between the Aspen Brewing Co. and downtown penthouse owners Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko. According to court proceedings, the couple phoned police 23 times between late December 2012 and early September to complain about sounds coming from the East Hopkins Avenue bar. Though the brewer received three separate citations from the city, a six-person jury absolved the restaurant of any wrongdoing.