March 29, 2012It couldn't be more ironic. I was in my office late Sunday night and had pulled out the noise ordinance recommended by Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller. Just as I settled back to read it, the music on the rooftop bar at Greene Street Club cranked up, and it was so loud in my office I couldn't think.
It wasn't so loud that it hurt my ears or anything like that, but I don't like to listen to loud noise when I'm trying to concentrate. It completely disrupted my work so I decided to go home.
My desk is beside a window that faces West Market Street, and I am about as far away from Greene Street Club as it is possible to be in our building. I like being downtown and recognize that it is much noisier than if we were in some office park. Guilford County is renovating the building across West Market Street from our office, so we have constant noise all day. It's part of being downtown and we accept that.
But every bar and restaurant in Greensboro that will be affected by this new noise ordinance should be out protesting against Greene Street Club. Most of the complaints and problems that have resulted in the proposed noise ordinance are because the folks at Greene Street Club seem to feel like it is their right to play music on its rooftop bar as loud as the equipment can stand. Not only is it outside, it is up high, which means there isn't much in the way to divert the sound. Perhaps a sound engineer could explain it but it certainly seems louder since it is up high.
This is a great example of so much that is wrong in this country today. Largely because of Greene Street Club, the city staff was forced to come up with a remedy for downtown noise, and the solution proposed by city staff is a citywide noise ordinance that will affect bars, clubs and businesses all over town, even if a complaint has never been filed against them.
Decibels don't mean much to me. I don't know whether the proposed 70 decibels at 25 feet is good or bad. But I do know that if Greene Street Club and other businesses tried to be good neighbors we wouldn't have to have a new ordinance and the city wouldn't have the expense of buying equipment and enforcing the ordinance. I'd rather have the police out catching robbers, thieves and violent criminals than sitting around with a decibel meter trying to figure out how loud is too loud.
Being chased out of my office by the noise from Greene Street Club is generally only a problem on Friday and Saturday nights. I don't usually work late on Friday and Saturday nights, so it is not a huge problem for me. But I can tell you that the Greene Street Club is a bad neighbor. Lots of neighborhoods have them and sometimes things get so bad that the city passes a law to try and do something about it.
We have more experience with Greene Street Club being a bad neighbor than most because they share our parking lot. They don't own it or pay rent on it; we do. But they treat our parking lot, driveway and alley like it is theirs. They block our alley and our driveway, although rarely both at the same time. They use our parking lot as if it belonged to them and never pick up the trash that is left behind by their employees and customers.
I've been cussed out more than once for the crime of asking someone to move their band van, not off our property but just over far enough to get by. Our office manager was physically threatened by the security guards for Greene Street Club for trying to preserve some of our parking spaces for the people who had a legal right to park in them.
Eventually we will be forced to put up a fence to protect our property. We don't want to fence people out, but at some point it will become too expensive to provide free services for Greene Street Club.
The City Council would rather not pass a new noise ordinance, but we have a club who doesn't want to be a good neighbor. People come downtown knowing that it is going to be louder than a quiet suburban neighborhood, but there is a limit.
All the other bar, club and restaurant owners in Greensboro who are going to be affected by this noise ordinance should place the blame, not on the City Council or downtown residents who would like to get some sleep, but on Greene Street Club, reasonable accommodations could have been made.