The Beat Goes on: Noise issue not over despite petition opposition
(Crystal A. Proxmire)
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City Hall was packed on Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 as residents came out to speak against the sound ordinance petition being circulated by W. Troy Street resident Sherry Wells, and ten of her neighbors. The neighbors had been attempting to get an ordinance on the ballot that would lower decibels throughout the City to 65 and ban outside amplified music.
To read the petition ordinance, alongside recommendations of the Ordinance Committee please see our previous article – https://oaklandcounty115.com/2010/09/22/ferndale-is-super-awesome/. To watch the video of the Council meeting, go to – http://www.ferndale-mi.com/.
Wells and others are upset over the opening of Rosie O’Gradys on the corner of W. 9 Mile and Allen, and say there are problems with noise from their outdoor patios and loud, disrespectful patrons who use their street for parking. However, the petition they circulated in an attempt to quiet the popular hangout raised concerns from City leaders, business owners, and residents who say they enjoy having a vibrant community and that the restrictions proposed were too strict.
“This petition would silence our city and undo all the hard work we put in to make Ferndale a happening city,” said Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey.
W. Troy Street Francine Hachem said “The sound does not bother us at all. We walk Downtown every day. The people are all locals and we love them. I hope businesses don’t think we’re stabbing them in the back because we’re not.”
Resident Joanne Wilcock said “I have seen Downtown go from a ghost town to a vibrant down town. I don’t want that to change.”
Emily Herald who lives in the building directly next to Rosie O’Grady’s said, “There cannot be a closer building, but I have never lost sleep.”
The owner of Howe’s Bayou (22848 Woodward) said that music in his restaurant and on his sidewalk patio creates mood and masks other noises like kitchen noise and conversation and the next table. “We have a satellite music system and when a storm comes by and knocks it out it creates an uncomfortable silence and you can hear other people’s conversations,” he said.
A dozen residents spoke in favor of keeping Ferndale musically inclined. The show of opposition to the petition brought resident Dave Cottrill to the meeting from his home, where he’d been watching the Council meeting on cable TV. “What you’re trading is a nice quiet city and trading it for money. It’s just way too loud and is destroying neighborhoods,” he said.
Another resident involved with the petition asked the City to justify the need for the music that is played through the speakers along W. 9 Mile, and asking if there are any facts proving that businesses would be financially affected if the music were gone.
Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius responded with several studies that addressed background music in shopping settings. Some of the results:
●In October 2009, the independent research company Entertainment Media Research Ltd conducted a survey on the theme of Christmas music among shoppers. 95% of consumers said they prefer shopping with in store music. The survey showed that 85% felt Christmas wouldn’t be as good without Christmas music, which brings a “unifying and enjoyable experience,” and that 53% of people sing along with Christmas songs at bars and pubs during the holiday season. (http://digitalretailradio.com/christmas-music-radio-news/christmas-music-drives-online-sales-revenues.html)
●According to Digital Retail Radio, changing the tempo of music affects human activities. “Playing slower and softer music encourages customer to stay longer and spend more money.” (http://digitalretailradio.com/christmas-music-radio-news/online-music-influences-sales.html)
● “Perhaps the most well-known example of a music research experiment was conducted by North, Hargreaves and McKendrick. This involved playing a mixture of French and German music next to a supermarket display of French and German wines over a two week period. When French music was played, French wine outsold German wine by five bottles to one. Conversely when German music was played, German wine outsold French wine by nearly two bottles to one.” (http://digitalretailradio.com/christmas-music-radio-news/online-music-influences-sales.html)
The DDA is currently working on an informational brochure for all businesses educating them on how noise carries, and what they can do to keep the noise from their establishments from carrying out into the neighborhoods.
City Council is considering the noise issue and has heard recommendations from the Ordinance Committee. They decided to do more research, including consulting with a sound expert, to determine what would be an effective way to improve the current noise ordinance to clarify issues of enforcement and to help reduce some of the problem without eliminating music all together.
Joel Petrie, resident and Co-Chair of the Citizens Financial Committee (https://oaklandcounty115.com/2010/09/27/185/) questioned whether the City should be spending money on a sound expert based on the complaints of less than 4% of the City.
Wells, who has spoken at nearly every council meeting over the past two months and called the police over a dozen times about noise at Rosie O’Grady’s spoke about the backlash she’s received from other neighbors who oppose her petition. “You have to understand that we’re on edge,” she said. “Just because there are a couple bars who do not want to be good neighbors, don’t turn us into complainers.”
The petition was submitted last month with 267 signatures on 25 sheets handed in, and 53 were not valid, mainly because people who had signed were not registered voters. They were unable to get enough signatures in time for the Sept. 29th deadline.
Wells said that they’ve chosen not to get more signatures, but has instead figured out 14 different ways they can proceed. “We have learned a lot and will word the next petition differently,” she said. “The beat goes on. Double entendre intended.”
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