Local News

Downtown Raleigh businesses work to balance noise, residents

Posted November 4, 2009 10:48 p.m. EST
Updated November 4, 2009 11:50 p.m. EST

— Raleigh's growing nightlife is putting the city's noise ordinance to the test. Businesses are required to get a permit for outdoor music. However, not everyone is complying with the rule and the City Council is hearing complains.

“You have someone who has their doors open, and not really disturbing most of the folks that are around and enjoying it. And then you have a couple of people saying they are disturbed, how do you solve that problem?” Attorney Billy Young asked.

Young represents a number of downtown bar and restaurant owners. He said the trouble some of his clients are having is that they want to open their doors to help welcome customers. But the owners fear they will then violate the city's noise rules and face fines.

Changes to the noise ordinance, which took effect July 1, allow police to assess civil fines for violations, starting at $100 per day for a first offense and $300 per day for additional offenses within 12 months. People have the opportunity to appeal a fine to an arbitrator. Previously, police could charge someone with a misdemeanor for violating the noise ordinance.

Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen recommends businesses apply for a permit covering outdoor amplified sound. He said that will help keep downtown enjoyable for all.

“We haven't had as much mixing in the past and we're growing up as a city. And we're learning and we are educating each other as we go through that process,” Allen said.

The permit aims to educate downtown business owners so that they know when music is too loud and how long music can be played.