The Buena Vista Board of Trustees (BoT) met on Tuesday, September 12 for their regular meeting. Several citizens stood up to speak during public comment, focusing on noise complaints stemming from a rooftop venue on Main Street and concerns that there may be more rooftop venues in the future. The Board also heard a request for a commitment to providing funding for a historic rail route.
Noise Complaints from Residents Near Main Street Starts Discussion over Concerns with Rooftop Bars
Kathy and Jeff Keidel expressed concerns during public comment over noise from a rooftop venue on East Main Street. With an additional rooftop venue coming soon and the potential for more in the future, the Keidels say they are concerned about increased noise pollution for residents like themselves who live just off Main Street.
Kathy Keidel spoke about how the sound funnels toward their home, especially now that the venue is used for weddings and receptions. “Even when the music ends, the cheering, yelling, and clapping do not,” said Keidel.
Keidel suggested doing a sound study to resolve this issue and potentially working with the business to create a sound barrier on the south side of the building.
Jeff Keidel spoke briefly to concur with Kathy’s comments. He also noted that it is the end of the tourist season and there should be ample opportunities to devise a solution before next summer.
During Trustee and Staff Interaction toward the end of the meeting, the Board returned to the topic of these noise concerns.
“I think something needs to be changed in the code,” said Trustee Cindie Swisher. “Someone who’s lived in the same place for thirty-five years, they should not have to change their lifestyle for new businesses in town.”
Police Chief Dean Morgan indicated that the business had been contacted and was willing to work together to come up with a solution.
Mayor Libby Fay confirmed that an email from the business owners indicated they were willing to agree to a contract cutting off the music at a certain time of night.
Trustee Peter Hylton-Hinga suggested identifying a solution that wouldn’t be disruptive to the business, especially for a rare issue rather than a constant one. He also suggested that, if they were to decide that changing the code was the best decision, it should be with something very clear-cut to make it easier to identify if a violation has occurred. Specifically, the suggestion was that the Town identify a specific time of night after which music is not allowed.
Then, perhaps businesses could apply to get special permits for exceptions to rules like this in the future if they wish to have live music beyond the Town’s threshold.
Ultimately, the Board of Trustees voted to direct staff to investigate potential solutions to louder rooftop establishment noise in general. Hylton-Hinga made the motion with a second from Swisher.
Trustee Devin Rowe was the only dissenting vote on this direction. “I feel like it’s a difficult thing to nail down,” said Rowe. “It’s going to take a lot of staff time when we don’t have a clear idea of how we want to deal with this … I have a hard time trying to nail down or reprimand a business on Main Street if we haven’t tried to talk to them directly.”
Chapter 7, Article VII of the Buena Vista Municipal Code lays out current rules regarding noise. A common misconception is that noise should be lessened after 10:00 p.m. Not true. This rule is not contained within Town Code, which differentiates certain decibel levels between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Decibel levels are different depending on whether it is a residential, commercial, or light industrial district. Town Attorney Jeff Parker confirmed that the Town Code is in line with State guidelines, but that this could potentially be changed.
Parker cautioned the Board, that identifying noise restrictions is a tricky topic. “I’ve been doing this for twenty years and haven’t come up with a good solution yet,” said Parker. “Noise issues are really tricky.”
Parker advised caution because lowering thresholds for nuisance noise could potentially make every sound a violation. Parker also mentioned an alternative, community-based solution working with property owners for reasonable measures to prevent disruption.
Request for Funding Commitment from the Town for Salida Rail Historic Route
Alan Robinson also spoke during public comment requesting funds from the town and a letter of support to help his application for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) grant funding to support a Salida Rail Historic Route.
Robinson said the Town had been supportive in the past. For the application, he was seeking $1,800 in match funding from each municipality in the county. He needs a letter of support in time to include with the grant application to provide evidence of the town’s support.
While no vote occurred, the Board discussed directing staff to request Robinson write up a draft letter of support for them to review during Trustee and Staff Interaction. Interim Town Administrator Phillip Puckett explained that, while the Town can’t fully commit to giving the funds, it should be no issue to write a letter of support indicating they may do so in the future.
Other Public Comment
Norma Cady provided the Board an update on her efforts to fund a memorial bench in honor of her town in Ukraine, Kreminna. Cady reported to the board that the final design for the bench was received and explained that she is still seeking funds to help pay for the project.
Jerry Raski also spoke during public comment on behalf of Honesty in Chaffee County Under Protest (HICCUP). Ark Valley Voice has covered the topic of this organization in the past with the article “A Hiccup in Chaffee County; Why Now?”. When Raski has spoken at the Poncha Board of Trustees meeting, Salida City Council Meeting, and the County Commissioners Meeting, he has incorrectly characterized this coverage in the past.
Raski made a plug looking for funding for HICCUP and indicated he would email the Trustees with more information and opportunities related to the organization.