An online petition titled "Your Voice Is Needed To Save Chattanooga's Nightlife" began being circulated Tuesday. Who created it is not clear, but it was created after residents living near Track 29 asked the city to toughen the city's noise ordinance after complaining for more than a year that music from the venue rattles their windows and dishes during some shows.
The petition, which had 580 supporters as of 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, states that Chattanooga "has one of the quietest noise ordinances in the country." The city can fine people who continue to make a noise louder than 50 decibels, which is lower than most normal conversations it points out, after being warned. The fine is $50, which the residents say is not harsh enough to deter a club or venue from treating it as a cost in doing business.
The petition asks the city to raise the level. It lists the names and email addresses for Mayor Andy Berke, and the nine members of the city council.
It reads in part:
"The downtown Chattanooga nightlife economy gives bartenders, wait staff, kitchen staff, security personnel, musicians, artists, and production staff jobs, and it encourages an active, walkable, enjoyable and social downtown environment. This nightlife economy also acts as a traffic generator for surrounding retail shops, art galleries and restaurants, who contribute millions of dollars a year in tourism dollars, sales taxes, property taxes and local pay wages."
In addition to asking people to sign the petition online, it asks that supporters show up at the July 29 council meeting.
Commenters on Facebook have taken up the debate in response to the petition. Poster Kerrick Johnson wrote that Track 29 is not the only venue causing a noise issue for Southside residents.
"My point is that we've got a great neighborhood and people want to put businesses here but we need some protection in the form of ordinances to govern those businesses," Johnson writes.
"The responsibility of this issue doesn't solely land on the shoulders of the event owners. And we don't want it to. Our city government has the responsibility to protect us as citizens. We do understand that the venues don't mean harm and are just trying to earn a living and provide jobs. But sometimes it comes at the cost of a quiet, peaceful neighborhood."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...