Downtown Noise Ordinance Up for Vote
Jerri Crook lives across from one of Columbia's most popular downtown bars. She has lived there for 10 years.
She has dealt with noise problems the entire time she has lived in Columbia but does not want to move.
"I love living downtown," said Crook. "I've lived in Los Angeles and other big cities and usually the more people you have living somewhere, the more rules you have."
The City Council is discussing changing noise rules for the downtown area after two years of debate surrounding one particular downtown bar-Shiloh.
Shiloh owner Tom Atkinson said he began reasearching noise in the downtown area after he got a few noise tickets for patrons on his patio.
Atkinson said the current rules are not in favor of downtown businesses with patios or outdoor venues.
Shiloh got caught up in the controversy when Atkinson built a wall along his patio to help stop the noise from reaching residences across the street.
"It was a temporary solution just to see what would happen," said Atkinson.
The wall is still up and Atkinson said he is hopeful for a step toward a permanent solution with more lenient hours and distances from which noise can be heard.
The Special Business District is considering taxi stands as a possible solution but hasn't proposed a plan yet.
Still, Atkinson said the proposal comes after input from the Special Business District of Columbia, which is made up of local business owners and downtown residents.
Crook said whatever the outcome, the greatest noise issue she faces is not addressed in the amendment.
"You've got almost the entire population of Harpo's standing out on the corner after bar close for almost an hour or two," said Crook.
Crook was talking about the fact that the if passed, the amendment in the ordinance would call for patrons off bar property to be issued noise tickets individually rather than the bar owner from the bar they just left.
Atkinson said he acknowledges the ordinance doesn't account for how to control loud crowds after bars close, but he said that is not an issue for him to solve.
"I think that is an issue for the police department," said Crook.
Crook said she thinks someone in the city government should be responsible for getting patrons home safely after the bars close and controlling the noise.
Atkinson said no matter what, downtown residents may have to make some concessions.
"We all want Columbia to grow and prosper," said Atkinson. "But there has to be something attracting people to want to come down here and live down here."
The Columbia City Council plans to vote on the downtown noise amendment at its Monday, May 17 meeting.