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Kingston gives thought to noisy bar problems

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Kingston City Council members plan to stay quiet about noise for another month.

After a period of reflection and study, they hope to come back in August with some needed tweaks to the city’s noise ordinance, which is a subject of debate once again after causing a stir in 2012.

The problems have arisen in the same neighborhood that was the source of complaints two years ago.

A couple of restaurants near West Race Street feature live music outdoors during warmer months, and complaints from West Race residents caused council to look at its noise ordinance and set decibel requirements to regulate how much noise is permissible, as well as where and when.
But a resident went before council at the end of June sessions to report that, despite the 2012 overhaul, the West Race residents are having trouble sleeping once again.

“I live over in that neighborhood, and it is awfully loud,” said Councilman Don White at the June work session. “It’s right in those people’s back doors. We’ve got to do something.”

Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam confirmed that though his department has visited the night spots on a couple of occasions, there were no violations taking place based on readings from decibel meters that department members now carry as part of their standard equipment.

“One thing that’s problematic is that it’s all contingent on what the sound level is when the police get there,” said City Manager David Bolling.

He said adjustments to the decibel level requirements in the ordinance, or to the times of day during which more noise is permissible, may be in order.

“I’d like to take 30 days and study, look at what we have and how we could make it better,” he said. “Talk to residents, businesses, consultants, and then come back with recommendations for next month.”

Council agreed to reconsider the noise issue at August sessions.