Steamboat City Council gives revised noise ordinance 1st approval
July 6, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The City Council, by a 5-2 vote, approved the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday that would revise the limit on the amount of allowable noise in residential and commercial areas. The ordinance would limit the night noise level to 60 decibels in commercial areas from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The current ordinance defines night hours as being from 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and limits noise to 55 decibels.
Council members Walter Magill and Kenny Reisman opposed the motion, citing a desire for a higher allowable decibel level at night.
During Tuesday's meeting the City Council was presented decibel levels taken at different dates and times from June 2 to June 22 near the Ghost Ranch Saloon, Old Town Pub, Sunpies Bistro and Boathouse Pub. Each business exceeded the allowable night noise level on more than one occasion.
Ghost Ranch co-owner Amy Garris, who has been in a dispute with some Howelsen Place residential property owners over the noise generated by her venue on Seventh Street, says the ordinance sets businesses up for failure.
"We're looking at setting an ordinance that just about every entertainment venue in town is only in compliance with, occasionally, when closed," Garris said. "I've got a 57 and a 61 (decibel level) when the Ghost Ranch is closed."
Ghost Ranch sound engineer William Scott Singer said all the city's noise level readings were taken during high-water runoff. He said that put the Ghost Ranch at a disadvantage because of the noise created by Butcherknife Creek, which runs alongside the building.
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said multiple noise sources didn't accumulate on top of one another. He said the city's noise measurement equipment would measure the loudest sound and argued that Butcherknife Creek may actually benefit Ghost Ranch.
"I think it works to their favor," he said. "That is a sound that's always there and washes out some of the noise coming from the building."
Mark Scully, managing director of Howelsen Place developer Green Courte Partners, also argued against the 60-decibel level — he wants it to be lowered. He pointed to a letter from the Denver Environmental Health Department that indicated the city's night decibel level is restricted to 50. He implored the City Council to use Denver's ordinance as the model Steamboat should adopt.
Steamboat's proposed ordinance also would restrict noise levels in residential areas to 55 decibels and to 65 decibels in commercial areas between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The only exception would be construction activity during daytime hours.
A first offense of the proposed ordinance would result in a warning. A fine of $250 would be assessed for the second offense, $500 for the third offense and $999 for the fourth and subsequent offenses.
The City Council will consider a second reading of the ordinance on July 19.
Also Tuesday, the City Council:
■ Unanimously and without discussion approved a motion to add an effective date of Jan. 1, 2012, to the ballot question that will ask voters in November to consider whether to ban medical marijuana businesses.
Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher said he recommended the city delay the ban, which would allow him to wind his business down, including getting rid of product. If voters approve the ban in November, it would have taken effect as soon as the city clerk certified the vote.
"If it takes effect the next day, we'd immediately be in violation of a million laws," Fisher said. "… Two months is a fair amount of time, but I hope that's a moot issue."
■ Unanimously approved a second reading of an ordinance that would recognize the commercial medical marijuana businesses established by Colorado House Bill 1284, new legislation approved last year, if voters oppose the ban in November. It also would permit a fourth infused-product maker to operate in Steamboat.
■ Heard an update from Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett. Barnett informed council members that commercial real estate broker Bill Moser will take over as president of the group's board of directors. Moser replaces Ruth Dombrowski, who left Alpine Bank to become office manager at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
■ Delayed second readings of two ordinances. One would require licensing of non-cigarette tobacco product retailers and the other would allow the city's director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services to extend the commercial rafting season on the Yampa River between Confluence Park and Stock Bridge Park based on river flow.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com