The long-running conflict between residents living near downtown Ferndale, the city council, and business owners seems to be coming to a head.
- A petition is being circulated by W. Troy residents to put a new noise ordinance on the November ballot.
- Last night, the DDA's Board of Directors held a special meeting, ".. to discuss residential and business concerns relating to the City of Ferndale's current noise ordinance and proposed changes to it."
- At the last city council meeting, council woman Melanie Piana confessed that while on a late-nite bike-ride with her husband she experienced, first-hand, how loud the music is on residential streets, and asked the city's administration to give the matter some attention.
- Earlier this month, the city of Mt. Clemens passed an ordinance banning sound that can be heard more than 500 feet from its source.
These are just some of the stories that have been in the news lately. In Ferndale, city-leaders' dedication to reinvigorating its downtown by turning it into a night-club and entertainment district has proceeded despite regular complaints from residents living near downtown about loud music disturbing their sleep as well as the attendant parking problems, public urination, disorderly persons on residential streets, and drug paraphernalia and discarded rubbers found on homeowner's front lawns.
At the DDA's special meeting Thursday night at Rosie O'Grady's approximately 30 people including one acoustic engineer, the Chief of Police, two city councilpersons, members of the DDA board, its executive director and other staff, and residents gathered to discuss the noise ordinance.
Here are just a few of my impressions. I invite everyone to leave comments with their own, or share their own opinions as they will.
- Craig Covey suggested the problem may have become worse recently with more of the nightclubs opening patios and having outside entertainment. Though there is certainly more outside music than before (both live and recorded) it doesn't explain residents complaints before outside music became popular. Additionally, it shouldn't matter where the music's source is--if it's too loud inside a resident's home it's too loud regardless whether it came from the club's patio, bar, or a bathroom.
- One of the board members reported that in addition to the $75-500 fine they may owe the city, the Liquor Control Commission (LCC) may add additional fines up to $5000.
- Brian Kramer gets the "Best Comment" award for when he said (paraphrasing), "I want to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. I don't like having this problem and I don't like having these meetings."
- Kramer also said his original site plan included 15' walls and a tree barrier around Rosie's, but those features designed to limit noise leakage into the neighborhood were eliminated by the the city's Appearance Review Committee.
- I forget who mentioned it, but the idea to make W. Troy a one-way street was re-introduced, as was the idea to remove the sidewalk leading from W. Nine Mile into the neighborhood, to discourage late-night revelers from stumbling in the direction of the nearby homes.
- One resident suggested the public urination problem may be due to the lack of accessible restrooms to folks on Rosie's patio. In a conversation afterward another resident pointed out that Como's has restrooms accessible directly from their patio, and suggested that had Rosie's site-plan included outside-accessible restrooms the Appearance Review Committee would likely have eliminated those as well.
- Rather than trying to tell people what 75.0 DB(A)s sounds like it would have been much better to bring a device that makes a 75.0 DB(a) sound, use the police's sound meter to check it, then see how far away the meter must move before the sound level falls to 0.0 DB(A)s.
I'm unconvinced an ordinance listing allowable decibels (on any scale--A or B) is the best approach for Ferndale's noise problem. I admire the simplicity of Mt. Clemens's approach. If you're 500' away and can still here it, then the noise is too loud. Unfortunately, Ferndale homes are, in many cases, less than 100' away. It's hard to imagine any night-time music, ambient or not, would dissipate to nothing before traveling a mere 100'.
I'm thinking that some kind of barrier may be required, as well as a possible resurfacing of W. Nine Mile, Planavon, Allen, and perhaps Withington and W. Troy with a material designed to absorb noise--along with a healthy growth of trees.
What do you think?