13th street noise issue may be resolved

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For four years, Jamie Walsh said his family and neighbors have been disturbed by the sounds of trucks backing up, idling and sounding their airbrakes at all times of the day and night.

Walsh, who lives on 13th Street and across from B&K Distributing Inc, has made countless complaints to police about what he thinks are weekly noise violations.

Walsh is hopeful that the complaints will come to an end as he tries to work out a resolution with the alcohol distributing company.

"I'm willing to give time for there to be some action taken," Walsh said.

The problem started in 2000, Walsh said, when trucks would come in late at night or early in the morning before the company was open. The trucks idled all night long, a sound that shook the frames in his son's bedroom, he said. The sound of trucks backing up and the airbrakes going off used to wake up his family.

"I have been a very patient complainer, waiting for the law to be enforced," he said. "Really my No. 1 goal and concern is the well-being and safety of my family."

City Director of Public Safety J.D. Hays said he is well-aware of the complaints and has sent officers out to the site with noise meters. When the officers went out, they did find noise violations; the company was sited, and the case is in municipal court.

Hays said B&K had done quite a bit to mitigate the situation by asking drivers to come in later or earlier and if they were staying overnight, to park in the Steamboat Springs Transit facility.

The steps are working, but Hays said, it could be difficult to alert the drivers to the problem because many come from all over the country and have not been to the distribution company before.

"I feel for Mr. Walsh. I understand it is a frustrating problem. It is being worked on. I believe B & K is doing what they can to stay in business and accommodate Mr. Walsh's concerns," Hays said.

City Staff Attorney Dan Foote said the noise violation case is in court but on hold while B&K works on mitigation measures. Fines for noise violations can run between zero and $999.

"We are working very hard to try to get it resolved. I don't expect it to go to trial anytime soon," Foote said.

After numerous complaints and continued noise violations, Walsh said he started taking his own decibel readings and video-taping the violations. The sound of trucks backing up and the airbrakes going off exceeded the legally allowable decibel level for high periodic shrills in an industrial area between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Walsh said that level was 70 decibels. The highest noise level for residential noise at night is 55 decibels, Walsh said. During one decibel reading by the city, noise levels were gauged at 76 and 79 decibels, all before working hours.

"Most of the rest (of town) is used to 20 decibels less than what people in Fairview have to put up with," Walsh said.

Walsh has been spearheading the effort for the noise to quiet down, but he also has other neighbors who have lodged complaints and has a petition with more than 20 signatures.

After meeting with the police department, city attorneys, the District Attorney's Office and owners for more than three years, Walsh said the noise occurs less frequently.

"I finally feel like some headway is being made," Walsh said.

The main problem, Hays said, is that one side of 13th Street is zoned industrial and the other half residential.

Hays said 13th Street is the most troublesome area in town where industrial-zoned land conflicts with residential neighborhoods. The issue occasionally arises in the Copper Ridge subdivision from industrial noise in the area and in the Old Town neighborhoods when snow plowing and trash collecting occurs early in the morning.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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