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Poll: Grove homeowners are upset about loud music from the venue behind their home. Who do you favor in this dispute?

August 10, 2014 Featured 7 Comments
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Last month an interesting issue appeared on stltoday.com (Post-Dispatch) and, two weeks later, a Riverfront Times cover story.

July 15, 2014:

Moore and Fratello moved into their house in 2012, which they built on two vacant lots they bought from the city. At the time, the space where the Ready Room is situated, at 4195 Manchester Avenue, was a vacant warehouse. The couple knew a retail or commercial tenant was coming. They didn’t expect a concert club. (Grove residents making noise over Ready Room, Demo shows)

July 30, 2014:

Fratello and his husband, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Doug Moore, own the Forest Park Southeast home that abuts the back wall of the Ready Room. Fratello, a professor at St. Louis Community College, says he can hear shows happening on the stage only twenty feet away from where his head hits the pillow at night — even with all the doors and windows closed. (The Grove’s Close Confines Have Residents and Club Owners Battling Over Noise)

I should disclose that I’ve known Moore & Fratello for a number of years. This post is about introducing the poll question this week, so I’m trying to present the issue in a neutral way. You can read the two articles if you need more information before voting in the poll this week.  The question this week is: Poll: Grove homeowners are upset about loud music from the venue behind their home. Who do you favor in this dispute?

As always, the poll is at the top of the right sidebar of the desktop layout. The following week I’ll post the poll results and my personal thoughts.

— Steve Patterson

  • Mark

    There are City ordinances which govern allowable decibel levels coming from a building. Bob Kraeberg needs to enforce those ordinances. The problem is not just the decibel level. Even a bigger problem can be the vibration that is generated by the bass setting of the amplification equipment. I had a friend who finally had to sell his condo unit in Sporting News Lofts because of the noise (music and vibration) coming from the adjacent tavern/restaurant. Kraeberg did nothing to enforce the City’s ordinances. He hid behind his desk and refused phone calls. IMO the Ready Room should be forced to install sound attenuation insulation and other devices necessary to contain their noise. It’s a cost of doing business, just like properly venting kitchen exhaust, installing fire suppression systems and their annual inspections, cleaning the windows and mirrors! Actually, the City’s building division should have been more on the ball and should have anticipated this issue at permit time.

    • Mark

      I couldn’t agree more. Businesses should make a reasonable accommodation to insulate their building to control noise escaping and if they can not do so, then they need to turn down the volume. There is simply no excuse for this anything goes philosophy that they can be as loud as they want and neighbors should have to put up with. The noise in some of these venues is simply ear splitting and I don’t know how anyone can stand it inside the club, but regardless what owners do inside their properties should not infringe on neighbors outside their property lines.

  • Mark

    Just checked the poll. Most of your readers, Steve, must be liberal democrats–who advocate forcing society to correct problems created by individuals! I can’t believe nearly 50% of your readership thinks the homeowner is fully or even partially responsible for correcting design issues that were obviously overlooked during the planning stages of READY ROOM! So someone does a half-ass design job, and the neighborhood has to pick up the tab to make improvements? My neighbor decides to alter his grades to allow water to encroach on my property, and I have to be fully or partially responsible for dealing with it? If this line of reasoning isn’t un-American, it is certainly un-American in spirit! (Come to think of it–it’s obviously un-American!) LET’S NOT FORGET THAT THE AFFECTED HOMEOWNERS WERE THERE FIRST–although this fact is really inconsequential!)

    I’ve been living out of the US for +/- two years, and I just don’t find this line of reasoning prevalent in the area of Europe where we reside. Discussing it with friends and family in Alabama where my family is currently visiting family, they don’t understand it either. Would someone who advocates this liberal democratic position PLEASE explain yourself???

    • JZ71

      The residential neighbors CHOSE to build their new homes with their backyards abutting an existing commercial structure. They should not expect it to remain a silent warehouse, forever, if the current zoning allows a whole range of other commercial uses. They should also not be expected to tolerate excessive impacts to cross the property line, be it noise, light, odors, traffic or chemicals. Your freedom to do what you want on your property stops once it crosses the property line. But there’s also the Latin phrase, caveat emptor, when it comes to real estate – buyer beware. Just because something appears to be benign does not mean that it is or will remain that way. That farm field can become a subdivision, that vacant lot, most likely, can and will be built on. That quiet parkway on a Sunday can be a busy commuter route on Monday, that babbling brook can flood your basement. In this case, the large, existing, commercial structure is zoned for AND suitable for a bar, a caterer or a restaurant. The surrounding neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance because those types of businesses are occupying those types of structures. You do the math, put two and two together. No one seems to be disputing the uses, the only real questions are the external impacts, noise and traffic. The noise issues can, and likely will be, resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. The traffic and parking issues are a much bigger challenge to “solve”, and no one should expect to build something on a vacant lot and then complain about more traffic when someone else does the same thing – you can’t “shut the door” right after you move in! That’s why I “only” favor the neighbors 75% – they assumed and they assumed incorrectly. Do your research and you won’t get surprised nearly as often . . . .

      • Mark

        To my knowledge based on the information in Steve’s initial post, the ONLY issue that the homeowners are complaining about is the noise generated by the club’s sound system. If I were a homeowner in that community, my position would (have to) be to let them amplify their music and sound to whatever desired levels inside the building …but….just don’t let a single decibel (beyond whatever is allowed by ordinance) creep beyond their property line. And when exterior doors are opened and closed as patrons enter and leave the establishment, there should be some sort of buffer arrangement to mitigate/muffle the noise…a sallyport of sorts But in your response, you mention traffic…..but…. traffic isn’t mentioned in Steve’s post, to my knowledge….an issue that of course would have to be dealt with on a totally different level….in a different discussion. Traffic congestion doesn’t (necessarily) defy ordinances. Excessive noise levels do!

        As I’m certain you’re aware, the best time to pre-treat a building for sound spread (like pre-treating for termites!) is during the design/foundations/framing phases, since many common materials used for muffling sound can easily be incorporated into a composite detail to replace other materials that would otherwise have been used anyway in a different (simpler) detail. Simply by varying thicknesses of drywall on either side of a split stud will significantly reduce sound travel. Sound attenuation blankets, sound studs, full-height demising walls, baffles, sound absorbing wall coverings and floor coverings all contribute to the effort. So done right the first time, the costs are more affordable. NOT FREE! And, like with ADA ramps, emergency exit lighting, fire suppression, air conditioning and heat, sound attenuation details absolutely must be incorporated into any legitimate set of nightclub design drawings. The drawings are incomplete if they are silent on any one vital detail.

        Sorry, can’t totally agree with your logic. I agree with the “traffic” portion, but not the “noise” portion.
        …………..and I disagree also that the noise portion in this case can eventually be “resolved to everyone’s satisfaction”. It will be resolved ONLY when a sound attenuation engineer is brought on board and after his recommendations are implemented…..tens of thousands of dollars later! And until that happens, we’ll see if Kraeberg has the balls to stand up to Ready Room. But I suspect he’s still shooting blanks!

    • Mike F

      “…must be liberal democrats–who advocate forcing society to correct
      problems created by individuals! I can’t believe nearly 50% of your
      readership thinks the homeowner is fully or even partially responsible…”

      Yeah, the victim-blaming present in the poll results is a little funny–and disturbing. I’m as liberal as they come, and I’m assuming that the majority of people who read this blog are nominally liberal as well. So it amuses me when I see the hypocrisy of the respondents to the poll laid bare for all to see. I guess the homeowners were just asking for it, huh? Was it the way they’re dressed, or the way they acted?

      Regardless of whether or not they moved in yesterday, or five years ago, the club is 100% at fault in this matter. It is their responsibility to mitigate for the decibel level of the patrons and the entertainment. If the Ready Room (which is a crappy venue anyway) cannot, or will not, provide the necessary upgrades to its facility, to the satisfaction of their neighbors, then perhaps it’s time we reviewed their status as a legally operating business.

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