Langley sings in harmony on noise

When it comes to the volume of music in Langley, everyone appears to be reaching for harmony.

In response to concerns raised by some downtown residents and merchants about loud amplified music and “industrial noise” in the downtown core, the subject returned at this week’s meeting of the Langley City Council.

As promised, Mayor Paul Samuelson reported on progress made by city officials to meet with as many people as possible to try to find a way to resolve the issue.

At the previous council meeting, concerns were voiced that some musical events, general noise and people shouting and playing loud recorded music after hours were disturbing to people who live in the downtown core.

It was also suggested that too much noise downtown interferes with other merchants, might cause a high turnover in the renting population and may discourage visitors from returning to town.

“We have an ordinance we need to govern,” Samuelson said, “but we want to do it in an educational way, rather than a policing way.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a measuring device,” he added, “which is pretty embarrassing.”

Samuelson said the city would acquire a decibel meter as soon as possible.

The city’s noise ordinance, a standard used by several communities, reads:

“Noise emanating from any use shall be muffled so as to not become objectionable due to intermittent beat, frequency or shrillness, and where use is within or adjoins a residential district.” And it adds:

“The sound measured at the lot line shall not exceed 50 decibels between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 70 decibels at other hours.”

On Tuesday, the focus was on music and its relationship to the emerging character of the city.

“Our town’s alive,” said Sherry Mays, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce. “If we’re on the map for some of our music, hallelujah.”

“Music has brought a great deal to Langley,” Councilwoman Rene Neff agreed. “No one I talked with said anything negative about the music.

“The city is sort of at a crossroads,” Neff continued. “There needs to be a little flexibility.”

Gwen Jones of Allikat Productions of Langley, which has booked several musical events downtown, said the events have been good for several of the city’s businesses.

“I do know the intentions were good, and we would like it to continue,” Jones said. “I don’t like empty storefronts.”

Langley resident Ursula Roosen-Runge said there’s a fine line between diversity and tolerance.

“I don’t have a high tolerance for noise myself,” she said. “But noises are considered part of a diverse community. The appropriate norms are what we’re looking for.”

Councilmen Russell Sparkman and Robert Gilman urged that the developing nature of the city not be jeopardized by too much intractability.

“I’m confident we’re going to find the right balance,” Sparkman said. “Like in the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ we don’t want to envision a future that will never be.”

Debbie Zick, who lives in the downtown neighborhood of Brookhaven, raised the noise issue at the previous council meeting.

“It would be nice if we can work together as a community,” she said Tuesday. “Finding a balance would be really great.”

Samuelson said city officials would return to the council with recommendations at a later date after gathering more information — and acquiring a decibel meter.

“I really think we’re on common ground,” the mayor said.

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