Neighborhood complaints about noise can be among the most contentious issues that face small governments.
Most often complaints originate in areas where businesses that play music mix with residential housing. It’s the perennial conflict between residential rights and business interests.
Langley is no stranger to such controversy. The former business, Mo’s Pub and Eatery, was a persistent source of complaints from nearby residents. Noise, rowdy crowds and litter were all cited as problems stemming from the business’s late-night operation. The controversy led to long, heated meetings for city leaders.
The complaints against The Machine Shop may sound similar, but the outcome should be different. The business is following the city’s rules. It would be unfair for city officials to add restrictions at this point that would affect the business’ livelihood. Hearing too loud music once a month may be annoying to the neighbors, but it’s not a major hardship. They’re living in a city, after all.
On the other hand, the owner of The Machine Shop should continue to be vigilant in following city rules governing amplified music and should do all he can to lessen the noise impact on the residents, as well as to ensure there’s no underage drinking. It’s important to be a good neighbor.
Three Langley residents, who are members of the Langley Association of Neighbors Downtown, complained to the Langley City Council Tuesday that the business was allowing bands to play past the allotted three-hour time window of 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday nights. They also complained attendees were parking on private property and that an event was held without a permit.
The Machine Shop has not received any noise complaint violations from the Langley Police Department. The police chief responded to one complaint, but found that no codes were being broken. The business has permission for people to park on a nearby lot. An event with acoustic music didn’t require a special events permit.
The city code requires applicants in “neighborhood business zones” to acquire special event permits before live amplified music can be played. Demonstrating satisfactory attention to noise impacts with adjacent residential properties is also required. The maximum of 12 live amplified music events are allowed annually in the city.
The rules are reasonable. They should be enforced but not changed.