published Thursday, July 17th, 2014

City Beat: Cities differ on how loud is too loud

A little bit of online research on noise ordinances in other cities turned up a couple of interesting items. First, we are not the only city discussing the issue of music from a club or venue and residents who live nearby. New Orleans, of all places, is dealing with it. Earlier this year, citizens rallied to stop tougher guidelines from being imposed, arguing it would hurt the city's music culture.

It is also an issue in Austin, Texas, where live music is a big deal.

I believe our city is looking at Austin's ordinance for some guidance, and a few things might surprise some folks. The code, which you can read online, has a lot of restrictions regarding when certain things are allowed. You can't operate sand, rock or gravel equipment between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., for example, which seems reasonable.

More to the point, though, it dictates when and where sound equipment can be used, especially if it reaches a certain level. In Austin, that level is 85 decibels between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., recorded at the business' property line. Our ordinance currently reads 50 dB, which is quieter than a normal conversation. The decibel level in a noisy restaurant is around 80 dB. A motorcycle is around 100 dB for comparison.

This week, someone started an online petition titled "Your Voice Is Needed To Save Chattanooga's Night Life." It mentions the 50 dB and stresses the importance of a vibrant nightlife scene.

Making everyone happy is going to be tricky for us, especially if we want to become known as a music city like Austin.

■ Go ahead and mark your calendar for the annual Tommy Jett Entertainers Reunion Aug. 3. It has moved this year to the Ringgold Depot and will be held from 1 to 8 p.m.

The Tennessee Radio Hall of Famer started the event in 1993 and, except for a couple of years when his health prevented him for doing so, he's hosted it every year since. It's a chance for local TV and radio folks to get together with local musicians and tell tall tales, play some music and raise money for a good cause.

This year, the beneficiary will be the Hunter Worley Foundation, which helps families who have lost a child. Performing will be Paul Smith and the Skyhigh Band, Jimmy Harris, Willie Kitchens, Danny Shirley, Cody McCarver, Roger Alan Wade, Craig Tyndall, Blue Miller, The Malemen and the Beaters.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

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 ...

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