Restaurant owner concerned about Dillon noise ordinance
DILLON – Wild Bill’s owner Jeff Lawrence said he’s worried about the impact a new town noise ordinance could have on his fledgling bar-band business.
“(Bands are) definitely a big part of what we do,” Lawrence said. “We’ll either come up with a compromise and make the neighbors happy or change the way we do business. If worse comes to worst, we’ll go back to being the restaurant we used to be.”
Bands playing at Wild Bill’s and other downtown Dillon establishments may have to ratchet down the volume a bit to conform with the ordinance – that, or keep the doors closed and the noise inside.
The new regulation was triggered by complaints from homeowners living near Wild Bill’s Pizza and the Lake Dillon Pub, venues that both feature live music.
“I would say 99 percent of the complaints have come from the residential area right across the street from them,” said town manager Jack Benson. “The complaints have been going on for years. The condo owners were a little more adamant (lately).”
Noise levels can no longer exceed set decibel levels – 65 decibels in the town’s commercial zone and 55 in the residential areas. The ordinance will be in effect from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Lawrence bought Wild Bill’s two years ago and introduced live music to the business, which had previously been a pizza restaurant only. But the entrance to Wild Bill’s faces a condominium complex, and some condo owners aren’t happy with the noise the bands bring.
“If I have my door shut, more than likely (the noise) won’t break 55 decibels across the street,” Lawrence said. “But if I have my door open, it probably will break 55 decibels across the street. In the summertime, I have no other way of ventilating my place.”
The cost to install air conditioning, he said, is “not something Wild Bill’s will ever be able to afford.”
Lake Dillon Pub owner Steve Hively said he’s not worried about the regulation. But, he noted, he has two doors to use for ventilation, and only one of them faces the condominiums.
“As long as we keep our door that faces the Lake Cliffe Condominiums closed during shows, there should not be a problem,” he said. “I have no reason to believe that we can’t operate within the decibel parameters. We’ve already tested it with one of the louder bands we’ve ever had in here, and we still weren’t exceeding the limit.”
The town has ordered a $1,500 hand-held noise meter, and will begin enforcing the ordinance once it arrives. When complaints come in, police officers will go out, meter in hand, to see if the complaint is merited.
“We’ll use that noise meter at the point of complaint,” Benson said. “So, if somebody complains from their bedroom window, we’ll go stand by their bedroom window and take the measurement.”
The town will work with the owners of Wild Bill’s and the Lake Dillon Pub to let them know at what volume the decibel level approaches a violation.
An establishment in violation of the ordinance can be fined up to $1,000.
Lawrence believes the bands draw potential future restaurant customers to his establishment and add life to downtown Dillon. But they don’t make him money, and the impact of the noise ordinance could sound a death knell for that side of his business.
“If I get two or three fines, and I don’t have it in my budget, then it’s probably time for me to raise my hands and say, “OK, it’s time for me to just run a restaurant,'” Lawrence said. “As much as I like having bands, it’s not worth it anymore.”
The ordinance excludes concerts held at the Dillon Amphitheatre and the Dillon Marina, as well as any town-sponsored events.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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