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By MIKE GIBSON
Kingston City Council members tried speaking softly to a repeat violator of local noise ordinance.
Now they’re pulling out the big stick.
In this instance, the stick comes in the form of a revised ordinance that specifies actual decibel levels allowable at various times of day.
Council members agreed at the Oct. 2 work session to vote on the ordinance’s first reading at the Oct. 9 full session.
The move was necessitated by the ongoing battles between the Smokehouse Grill on West Race Street, and nearby neighborhood residents.
The restaurant, owned by Jot Raymond, had been having outdoor music throughout the week, prompting complaints from neighbors — especially on weekdays — that the revelry became excessively loud at bedtime hours.
Raymond faces an upcoming court date over one such complaint, and several area residents have been subpoenaed, including city council member Don White.
In September, council looked at a possible new ordinance, but decided instead to have a talk with Raymond about the problem at the monthly beer board meeting.
Police Chief Jim Washam delivered a request to Raymond, and the meeting happened at the September beer board, the same day as the full council session.
“We had him in and had a talk with him, but it didn’t work,” White said. “It worked, for about 45 minutes. Maybe an hour.”
Area resident Ted Perry described to council a recent Friday — since the meeting — when the Grill hosted a loud Bluegrass band.
“The music and voices got louder as it got later; it got pretty crazy 10 to 11 p.m.,” Perry said. “I think he’s a pusher. He’ll push, push, push until he’s told what he can do.”
Council members agreed to reintroduce the ordinance they briefly considered at the September work session.
It calls for a maximum 65 decibels at the property line of a residential property line from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 60 thereafter; 80 decibels in a commercial district, 75 after 10 p.m.; and 80 decibels at all times in an industrial district.
City Manager Jim Pinkerton said that though the Grill abuts a residential district, it is zoned commercial, and will probably be held to the commercial standard.
Kingston Police will be equipped with special decibel readers should the ordinance become law.
The new ordinance, if it passes two readings and a public hearing, would have a number of exceptions.
Certain government and public events would be exempt, for instance, as would emergency vehicles, and certain types of construction work, among other things.
“That’s important,” said City Attorney Sandy McPherson.
“Because once you pass it, you’re going to have to uniformly apply it. You can’t apply it here, then allow this over there.”