Aspen Brewing Co. opts for trial on noise violation
August 28, 2013
Faced with two citations that said it violated the city's noise ordinance earlier this month, Aspen Brewing Co. has decided to fight the allegations at a trial that will take place sometime this fall.
At Aspen Municipal Court on Wednesday morning, assistant city attorney Debbie Quinn announced that the local brewer — which received the citations on the evenings of Aug. 2 and 10 at its East Hopkins Avenue tasting room following a residential neighbor's complaint about live music — wanted the cases to be consolidated and decided at a trial.
Municipal Court Judge Brooke Peterson said Oct. 7 would be an available trial date but noted that the business has 10 days to decide whether it would prefer a trial by jury, which would result in a later date for the proceeding. If not, the matter will be decided by the judge himself.
Aspen Brewing Co. owner Duncan Clauss said after the brief proceeding Wednesday that he has a lawyer assisting his case. He added that he has yet to determine whether he wants a jury or if he wants the judge to rule on his own from the bench.
Instead of the city's case targeting two tasting-room employees cited because they happened to be working on the nights that Aspen policeman Roderick O'Connor issued the citations, the defendant will be the business itself, Aspen Brewing Co. LLC, Quinn said. The workers listed on the citations are Daniel Collins and Craig Turpin, who were at the bar on the night that O'Connor used a noise meter to determine that the volume level from the bar was in excess of the maximum limit of 60 decibels.
"Neither of our bartenders knew what was going on when it happened," Clauss said. "They didn't see the officer take the reading or anything like that, so we're not sure about all the details concerning where the readings were taken. We also wanted the city to consolidate the cases against the business and not the individuals."
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Aspen Brewing Co. faces a maximum fine of $1,000 on each violation if found guilty.
The city's noise ordinance recently has come under fire from club and restaurant owners as well as musicians because of the 60-decibel limit after 9 p.m. in the downtown area, which is zoned as a commercial district. The critics have charged that live music is crucial to the community's vitality and that 60 decibels is too low — two people having a conversation at normal volumes can reach 60 decibels or more.
In a related development, the city's Environmental Health Department recently scheduled a City Council work session for November to see if council members want to consider policy changes within the noise ordinance.