Basalt wants to cut noise but not vitality
BASALT – Basalt officials are trying to cobble together a noise ordinance that will give residents more peace and quiet without turning it into a “fuddy-duddy town.”The Town Council on Tuesday night gave initial approval to an ordinance that will only allow most noisy activities to be undertaken between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The use of leaf blowers, lawnmowers and power tools will be banned outside those hours. The town’s street sweeper won’t be able to prowl the streets in the early morning hours. Amplified music, radios, loudspeakers and similar noise will also be taboo outside the permitted times.The town will make exceptions for community events like football games, celebrations like Basalsa and River Days, and for bars that feature live music. Those types of events will be allowed to make noise until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday.Councilman Pete McBride warned the council not to crack down too severely on bars and special events since a big concern is to add more “vitality” to the community.”We’re headed down the track of a fuddy-duddy town a little bit,” he said.Bars are trying attract business in a tough economic climate by presenting live music, McBride said, yet neighbors understandably covet peace and quiet.”We’re in a tug of war to some degree here,” he said.Nobody on the council wanted to be a fuddy-duddy, so they heeded his warning and said bars can have amplified music inside or on patios until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. However, the council is seeking further compromise for music coming from the Riverside Grill, a bar and restaurant on the Fryingpan River.Mike Luciano, who lives with his family across the river from the establishment, told the council the music from the bar has been a problem for about the last year. For a decade, there was no problem, he said. Then, for the next three years, the bartenders were responsive when homeowners would ask them to hold down the noise.”The last year it’s gone completely off the wall,” Luciano told the council. There are bands on most Fridays and salsa dancing on Thursdays. The music carries out from the building, even during winters with the place bottled up, he said.”It’s intolerable living across the way with little kids,” Luciano said, adding that five or six homes are affected. “When I say it’s intolerable, it’s an understatement.”Chris Szczelina, whose family owns and operates the Aspenalt Lodge adjacent to the Riverside Grill, said half of his customers complain about not being able to get to sleep on nights that music plays at the bar.Luciano suggested that the council require the Riverside Grill to work on a compromise on the noise issue with its neighbors as part of its liquor license. While not selecting a specific tool, the council pledged to try to encourage a compromise.Myers & Co. Architectural Metals was given an exemption to the town’s noise ordinance. Company president Bob Myers said his firm has followed the state noise rule for the 35 years it has been in business. Complaints have been few, and then only after the Southside subdivision sprouted around the metal fabrication business, Myers noted.Town officials were sympathetic to the company’s plight. Councilwoman Anne Freedman compared it to people moving into the flight path of a major airport, then complaining about the noise.”The focus of this is not to make life tough on our industrial employers in town,” Town Manager Bill Kane said. The noise ordinance came about because the town wanted to reduce use of leaf blowers, he said. The council stopped short of an outright ban of the machines.The Roaring Fork Club golf course also received an exemption, allowing it to mow and manicure its grounds before early tee times.Another provision of the noise ordinance will require car alarms to be shut down after one minute. Two minutes was initially proposed.”Two minutes is a long, long time to listen to a car alarm,” Councilman Glenn Rappaport said. “I think they should be illegal in the town limits of Basalt,” he added, half-jokingly.In a related action, the council approved a tweak to its existing public nuisance code. The owners of dogs and other animals can be cited for disturbing the peace when their animals commit a “loud, habitual and persistent barking, howling, yelping or whining for ten minutes or more.”The penalties for animal noise and unlawful noise are the same: $50 fine for the first offense; $150 fine or summons with a fine of up to $1,000 for the second offense; $300 fine or a summons with a fine of up to $1,000 for the third offense.The council passed the first reading of the noise ordinance 6-0, with Mayor Leroy Duroux absent. It must also be passed in a second firstname.lastname@example.org
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