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Cape Girardeau downtown noise committee to make recommendations

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tungsten Groove performs on Bel Air's outdoor stage on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, in Cape Girardeau.
(Kristin Eberts) [Order this photo]
A proposed downtown Cape Girardeau noise ordinance aimed at outdoor bands would make it a citable offense if any sound is audible at distances greater than 300 feet at any time, though the distance shrinks during late-night hours.

An eight-person committee tasked with taking a look at the city's noise ordinance will make its recommendation to the Cape Girardeau City Council at its 5 p.m. study session today.

While most members of the Noise Ordinance Review Committee said they believe the proposal strikes a fair balance, some said they thought 300 feet -- about the length of a football field -- isn't a great enough distance.

"I think the 300-foot line is way too close for what has always been going on downtown," said Michael Hess, a committee member and owner of Breakaways. "I think complaints will still come at this distance, and I think it should be more like 1,000 feet to be fair."

The proposal, which would have to be drafted in ordinance form and approved by council, sets parameters for weekday and weekend levels, which vary depending upon the time of day, according to a city memo outlining the recommendations.

Under the proposal, violations of the ordinance would occur when sound is plainly audible at 300 feet and beyond from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. From 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., that distance shrinks to 150 and down to 50 feet from 1:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

On Friday and Saturday, sound must not be plainly audible past 300 feet from 10 a.m. to midnight, decreasing to 150 feet from midnight to 1:30 a.m. and to 50 feet from 1:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The proposal calls for a new ordinance directed at the downtown area only, but diverts from the existing noise ordinance in that it would apply a "plainly audible" rule. That rule is defined in the memo as "any sound that can be detected by a person using his or her unaided hearing faculties."

A law-enforcement officer responding to a complaint wouldn't need to determine the title or specific words of a song, the memo says. The detection of the rhythmic bass component of the music would be sufficient to constitute a plainly audible sound.

Police chief Carl Kinnison said the new definitions make it easier for residents, business owners and police to determine what constitutes a noise disturbance. Under the existing ordinance, a noise disturbance is defined as any sound that endangers the safety or health of people or animals and annoys or disturbs "a reasonable person of normal sensitivities."

"With the plainly audible rule, it's easier to draw that line as to what's a violation and what's not a violation," Kinnison said.

The controversy came to a head last year, when Bel Air Bar and Grill drew several complaints from neighbors about its outdoor live bands being too disruptive late at night. Bel Air owner Misty Thrower said Monday she was advised not to comment because she has a court appearance today on those violations.

Council member Meg Davis Proffer, who was the council's liaison member on the committee, said she thinks the 300-foot parameter should be greater.

"We looked at what other cities do to come up with that number, but we need to look at what's best for Cape Girardeau, specifically," she said. "But I think this is a great starting point. The council may have to take a closer look at that number."

Committee chairman Charlie Herbst said the group wanted to make recommendations to the council in an attempt to address the concerns of the residences, while balancing the needs of the business owners to make a living.

"We were looking for a common ground," said Herbst, a former councilman and former police officer. "This sets out the rules and sets some expectations by the residents. It's a start. You have to start somewhere."



Pertinent address:

701 Independence, Cape Girardeau, Mo

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"sound must not be plainly audible past 300 feet from the source"

Wow. Another totally arbitrary piece of legislation. Congratulations, Cape Girardeau.

-- Posted by Salad on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 4:21 PM

300 feet is stupid...1,000 feet is a better balance. If you live across the street from the bar you knew what you were getting into when you moved there.

-- Posted by drivennail on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 4:41 PM

What volume position is that on the loudspeakers? Minus 50?

-- Posted by vietnamvet on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 4:41 PM

There is a HUGE difference between "hearing a sound at 300 feet" and a noise being loud enough to be annoying at 300 feet!

-- Posted by riverdog on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 4:56 PM

This is 2011, there is technology available used mostly around airports and high traffic area's in large cities to stop soundwaves, but let's not bother exploring alteratives to more laws, ordanances, rules, fines, or other controling bureaucracy imposed on the people, by public official's.

If an ordanance does pass in cape, I'm gonna have fun shutting down the quary, and trash pickup companies, etc. that keep me up half the night too. And the river boat's, and train's too are clear a heck of a lot furthur than 300 feet. Interstate traffic is pretty noisy too now that I think about it. Does this new proposed ordanance apply to all of Cape, or just a select few elete?

-- Posted by EZ Rider on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 5:02 PM

I'd be willing to bet that the majority of people on this recommendation committee have no idea how far 300ft, 150ft, or 50ft isn't. 50ft - that's about three car lengths. I'm all for noise control but this is just more things that can't possibly be enforced.

Rhodes better turn it down too.

-- Posted by malan on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 5:23 PM

I live north of Lexington in the city limits and I can clearly hear the train when it passes through downtown in the early morning. Are we going to be fining the railroad on a daily basis? Three hundred feet is not enough.

-- Posted by chinook on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 5:26 PM

The general nature of the proposal as described in the article would seem to present an absolute enforcement nightmare.

Thought something more definitive would've been offered - like this portion of a total noise ordinance shamelessly borrowed from Portland, Oregon - http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/in...

-- Posted by fxpwt on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 6:05 PM

I live in Jackson by Jackson Tire, in the summer we can hear the riverboats at night.

Can I sue Cape for not enforceing their ordinance.

-- Posted by darkstar on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 6:13 PM

I think that the ordinance should include ALL of Cape Girardeau, not just downtown. That way we can report some of these cars driving around with their stereos so loud that they rattle the house windows when they drive by. But on the other hand I like listening to the music from downtown in the summer. Let's just do something about stereos rattling the house windows :)

-- Posted by Hookie98 on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 6:16 PM

This is nebulous, unenforceable legislation at its best. How about putting a definition in there, like XX dB at YYY ft.?

-- Posted by Maynard on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 6:35 PM

"Hello, Police? Yes, I think I just heard a Kink's song 285' feet away. I destictly heard the words, 'You really got me'"!

-- Posted by grandma73 on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 6:46 PM

How can you not hear music past 300ft you might as well say no bands at all its like saying go out of business and that isn't right people are going to try and complain somehow until bel air or downtown bands are no more!

-- Posted by capeguy30 on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 7:49 PM

ban smoke,ban music,what is next?? sink all the river boats,derail the trains,silent car horns,no sirenes from the cop cars,no fire engine horns,that is all noise heard all over town!! good grief get a grip!!!!!a little music is not going to hurt anyone!! you dont no what a noise ban is like!!I DO I LIVE IN ONE AND I,M MOVING!!

IF YOU HAVE A FLAT TIRE HERE YOU BETTER BE AWFUL careful not to make noise changing it!!!

-- Posted by gussedup on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 8:15 PM

This is such a load of horse hockey...

First, the quotes from people calling this a "starting point" don't make sense. It's going to be recommended to the council, then they draft and it's done. How does that have a starting point? Are we going to see amendments to this to change things? Is the council going to get it and decide to be rational and change the distance?

I like how it also says Bel Air drew complaints from neighbors, plural. It was one residence that threw a fit about it and made a stand, causing this entire debacle to get started in the first place.

Would this apply as a "noise" ordinance or a "live music" ordinance? Realistically, someone running a circular saw on a construction site could be cited during the day. Tunes at Twilight? Not happening, pal.

And I'll say it right now: If you require pay-for city permits to be able to do things like Tunes at Twilight, Municipal Band concerts, City of Roses Music Fest or tailgating bands at SEMO, people will just flippin' quit. And what little scene we have will go with it.

Be realistic. I feel for the 3 or 4 people this effects, but come on. What an absolute waste of time. Ask any cop you see how big of a priority this will be if it passes.

-- Posted by Iceburg on Mon, Jan 24, 2011, at 11:25 PM

Stupid stupid stupid

-- Posted by Sharky on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 6:09 AM

300 feet = 100 yards, or slightly shorter than the length of one football field. That reminds me, what about semo football games or marching bands in parades? Those can definitely be heard more than 300 ft away. This is probably equivalent to the length of one downtown city block - way too restrictive for even general use.

-- Posted by Gock on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 6:40 AM

Will there be a music festival this year?

-- Posted by grandma73 on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 7:27 AM

Just once I'd like to see a government entity pass a law that actually helps commerce. That was the original intent of governments: To assist in commerce. Now they do everything they can to inhibit it.

-- Posted by bbqman on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 7:43 AM

We will also need to cancel all Semo Fair bands!

My home is over 9000 feet as the crow flies from arena park and, I can hear the bands plainly. I sure wish City leaders and shakers and makers would start concentrating on serious issues we face here in Cape rather then this ridiculous run of restrictions. Where will this all end? Enough already! People should be more concerned with infrastructure issues like this waste water plant and, the bleeding we are experiencing down there at the airport. Just to mention a few.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 7:55 AM

Do people think that the casino is going to be silent after 10pm...please. You can hear "downtown" as a whole from 150ft away. If this passes I'm going to call the cops every single night at 10:01PM and complain that I can hear "noise" from downtown. I will measure exactly 150ft down the road buy Hudsons and wait for the police to arrive. I will do this every night until the city writes itself a ticket and realizes this is completely ignorant. Let us just hope the city council isn't as narrow minded as this committee was that decided on this 300/150/50ft crap. Might as well just shutdown anything related to fun downtown.

-- Posted by killswitch_engaged on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 8:25 AM

300 feet is a ridiculous distance. I think that people who live downtown knew what they were getting into when they bought their property there. Do we truly wish to kill our downtown scene? What about the noise from the Semo District Fair? You can hear the tractor pull noise and concerts a whole lot further than 300 feet! BelAir Grille is a great asset to our downtown area. Let's not kill this awesome venue with noise ordinances. What's this going to do to "Tunes at Twilight" and the City of Roses Music Festival? And downtown property owners, welcome to living in a somewhat thriving downtown where there's noise, traffic, people, trains and riverboats. If you wanted a quiet neighborhood, move to a subdivision away from downtown Cape.

-- Posted by WestCounty on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 8:30 AM

This may even be a bigger joke than the smoking ban. If this passes, businesses won't have to worry about smoking because there will not be any customers, period.

-- Posted by howdydoody on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 8:55 AM

The original intent of government was to increase the wealth and power of those who were governing.

-- Posted by Professor_Bubba on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 9:16 AM

Mayberry will always be Mayberry. 300 feet is idiotic.

-- Posted by SEMO72a on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 9:21 AM

Is that 300 feet as the crow flies, or walking streets? What if I am 300 feet straight up? Is height a consideration, or just linear distance?

Is the source of sound measured from the property line, front center stage, center of stage, or center of back of stage?

So, the bands that play in the Christmas parade will have to get a permit? What about carolers? Are they considered a band? Will they be banned?

Does a single musician constitute a band? You will have to define "band", so we know what is banned.

What about musicians in a band that smoke? If smoking is banned and sound is banned, then isn't that a double ban? Is that consitutional to be double banned if you smoke and are in a band?

-- Posted by Hawker on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 9:40 AM

I believe this is going to far. When the weather is nice people want to get out and hear music and attend events. How much more is the committee going to take away from the residents! Also if you choose to live downtown you must expect some noise!

-- Posted by suzie5699 on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:11 AM

Thanks to all the democrats for all the big government and frivolous legislation. We are encroaching on a slave state.

-- Posted by CosmoKramer2011 on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:20 AM

The easiest way to tell if an ordinace is restrictive is that they will immediately start making exceptions. Will this include churches, semo football games, tunes at twilight, music festivals, capaha park concerts, police sirens, car alarms, trash pick-up, construction sites, the quarry, tire changing operations, exterior business paging systems on businesses such as car dealerships, any raised voices or outdoor speeches, etc...? I live within 300 feet of a cleaners and I can clearly hear the exhaust form their equipment.

How much longer will citizens put up with this kind of restricrive goverment intrusion on our rights?

-- Posted by riverdog on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:29 AM

Way to drag one-sided, slanted, misguided political drivel into the discussion cosmo.

-- Posted by riverdog on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:35 AM

Can you hear carolers from 300 feet?

-- Posted by nObama on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:43 AM

Yes, it's all the Democrats' fault.

Because we all know that our local government is nothing but crazy liberals.

Get a grip.

-- Posted by the_eye on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 10:51 AM

300 ft is ridiculous. Unrealistic. Wow.

That family that purchased their home downtown, with a baby, had to of known what they were going to get themselves into---its not rocket science. You live downtown, you get downtown noise. You live near train tracks, you get train noise. You live near a fire station, you hear sirens. Etc. Etc. Etc. The people who are in support of this ban are unrealistic and highly, what is the word....self-centered? Living in their own world? I could go on...if you don't like the noise of downtown, don't live there!

-- Posted by scadgrad23 on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 11:50 AM

The houses were built there long before the entertainment stage. The police are there to protect the rights of homeowners. I don't know why this bar/music is being given the right to disturb everyone nearby. The darn music/bass should be inside where it belongs. I don't know where people ever got the idea their wish for loud music overran other peoples desire for peace and quiet.

-- Posted by ArcticFox on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 12:29 PM

I am confused by those who believe that an ordinance that prohibits audible music at 300 feet or more is going to impact businesses in Cape Girardeau more than the current restriction of 50 feet. The recommendation is far more liberal than the current ordinance. And there are already exceptions in the Cape Girardeau ordinances that are not under review for change - including special events that get permits (such as bands playing at the Capaha band shelter and the fair). Citizens of Cape Girardeau should familiarize themselves with ALL of the ordinances that relate to noise in order to be properly informed on the subject.

-- Posted by medusa on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 1:00 PM

Medusa....the current ordinance does not impose a "clearly audible" standard. This would make mowing my lawn a noise violation because I am 100% positive you would be able to hear that 300ft away.

And to you ArcticFox...last time I checked the music wasn't bothering "everyone nearby." More like 1 or 2 people that can't come to terms with reality that downtown area's are not the same as small neighborhoods outside of town.

Luckily, this is a democracy and majority rules. I feel that if this is passed Misty will be forced to start a petition just like the smoking ban which will in turn trigger another election which will cost the city more tax dollars. All of that could be avoided if the city council did the right thing and just told the 1 or 2 people complaining they are being unreasonable. If they don't like it lets see if they can get the signatures required to put something on the ballot. Passing this ordinance will do nothing but handcuff downtown more than it already is and waste time on law enforcement answering the many outrageous calls I will certainly make.

-- Posted by killswitch_engaged on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 1:53 PM

Is the actual text of this proposed ordinance to be found anywhere or is this all idle speculation???

-- Posted by thewaterboy on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 2:02 PM

This is well on the way to shutting down another downtown establishment....then all of Cape will be stressing on how to bring downtown back!!! ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH REAL ESTATE THERE!

-- Posted by wadasay on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 2:05 PM

Have they considered what equal protection under the law means? You cannot have a law that specifically discriminates or over regulates one group, in this case only businesses downtown.

This business was in operation before the couple with a young child bought the house. There is no protection for ignorance under the law. I have two children, and would never consider buying a house downtown. The couple should've thought of their child's well being before they signed on the line. Because they didn't now downtown is expected to conform to their standards? Here's a thought, MOVE. If that is you are truly concerned about your child.

It would be wise of THE PEOPLE to file complaints against every single violation to this ordinance should it pass, whether it be the lawn mower, passing traffic, trains, river boats, parades, Christmas carolling, and so on as others have suggested. Let the city understand how ridiculous and impossible to enforce this ordinance is.

I wish Misty the best of luck. If it passes the unintended consequences will be the closing of a profitable business.

As usual the truly loud minority are punishing the silent majority. Is there a complaint I can file for that? I'm tired of being silent as freedom slips away, little by little.

-- Posted by The Libertarian on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 3:26 PM

Hope the SEMO Dist Fair has to keep the sound down to less than 300 feet. No more concerts there or tractor pulls, no demo derby, or any of the other redneck crap they have.

-- Posted by trekker on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 3:53 PM

What about tunes at twilight?

Will it be 300 feet for them too?

-- Posted by trekker on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 3:57 PM

All of this about the noise ordinance for downtown is completely ignorant. If they pass any law or ordinance that restricts the noise to 300 feet they might as well shut down Tunes at Twlight, City of Roses music festival, parades, and the SEMO fair. Cause you can clearly hear all of those past 300 feet. Will the cry baby family who started this sign my petition to get Soitheast Hospital to stop using the helicopter that they use to save lives between 10p.m and 6 a.m. I can clearly hear it late at night. No they wouldn't sign it cause they should be smart enough to have some logic. There is no logic in what is happening downtown. I too intend on calling the police at 10:01 every single night when I hear a car pass, a horn honk, or a door shut outside my home. There are so many things our police force can be doing to keep our city safe then responding to sensitive people who clearly have no perception of reality.

-- Posted by ILoveLoudNoises on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 6:00 PM

Practically speaking, there is no difference between clearly audible and the current ordinance. Any lawyer worth a darn would tell you that it will make no difference in how cases are prosecuted or defended. That language is nothing more than a token compromise to those who want the current ordinance changed.

-- Posted by medusa on Tue, Jan 25, 2011, at 9:03 PM

I went to city hall the other day and could hear the police department's outdoor speaker paging an officer. Guess they'll have to shut that down.

-- Posted by Marion_Morrison on Wed, Jan 26, 2011, at 7:45 AM

I mentioned this before......

280 hours. That is 4 hours each Friday and Saturday night from April through October. This is not much to ask in order to run a business. Keep in mind that this is in a "Perfect World." No rain, not to hot, too cold, bands always being available, etc.

I am with all of the other people here, this will not just effect Bel Air, but the entire city. I will be sure the police are kept busy due to noise violations all hours of the day/night.

-- Posted by Pathetic on Wed, Jan 26, 2011, at 3:12 PM

I cannot believe the stupidity of some of the comments I'm reading here.

-- Posted by ArcticFox on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 2:10 PM

The real stupidity of all this is that we even have to have the conversation of shutting this down. No one ever complained until this new family moved next to a bar in a downtown area.

-- Posted by ILoveLoudNoises on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 4:23 PM

@ Gock. You have a pretty good point on the marching band thing. Growing up (in St. Louis) I was in a marching band that practiced for a hour every morning (from 6:30-7:30) before class. I lived about a half mile (880yrds) away from school. Before I was in the marching band I could hear it from my front porch.

Is the local marching band going to have trouble practicing?

-- Posted by AtheneBelle on Fri, Jan 28, 2011, at 7:53 AM

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