Greensboro considering changing outdoor noise ordinance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro is trying to figure out the right balance between being a business-friendly city and having peaceful neighborhoods with a proposed noise ordinance.

The ordinance, which applies to outdoor amplified noise, was brought up late in Tuesday's Greensboro City Council meeting. Councilmembers agreed to postpone a vote until the first meeting in March in order to work out the details.

The ordinance would affect businesses like the Greene Street Club, known for its outdoor rooftop area where concerts are played. Grady Green, who manages the club, said the rooftop accounts for two-thirds of his business.

"Without some type of entertainment, it's going to be hard to attract customers to this area," Green said.

Some downtown neighbors, like Allen and Sarah McDavid, said they have noticed more nightlife downtown since they started living there 10 years ago.

"I enjoy being able to hop out my front door, walk down a couple blocks and enjoy a live band or have drinks with somebody and walk home. It's great. It's actually perfect for us," Sarah McDavid said.

However, they do have their limits.

"At 3:00 in the morning, when there's still a lot of chaos going on, that's when I have a problem. But it's not above the noise decibel, so it's not that big of an issue," Sarah McDavid said.

The first draft of the ordinance, as explained by interim city attorney at Tuesday's meeting, would drop the acceptable noise level from 65 decibels to 45 decibels. Sound experts have measured normal conversation from about five feet away to be 65 decibels.

Winston-Salem has an ordinance that calls for "comfortable and reasonable levels of noise" from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Greensboro's ordinance would have the same hours of enforcement.

Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan said Greensboro will consider other cities' ordinances when drafting their own version.