Noise levels loosened in proposed Greensboro ordinance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A change to a proposed outdoor noise ordinance in Greensboro will allow for a little more noise than its first version.

The original draft called for the noise level to be dropped to 45 decibels and to be measured closer to the original source. As 45 decibels is equivalent to the sound of raindrops, it would have essentially banned outdoor bands after 11 p.m.

The new proposal from Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller, which he calls a compromise between downtown residents and business owners, keeps the close measuring range but increases the acceptable noise level to 70 decibels. That's equivalent to a normal conversation about between people about three feet apart.

The new proposal would shut down amplified voices from DJs after 11 p.m., while a quieter party could go on until 2 a.m.

The current acceptable noise level is 65 decibels, but it's measured from a much farther distance away than what the ordinance change calls for.

Developer Roy Carroll and a resident at his Center Pointe Development have spearheaded the movement to quiet things down downtown. Carroll sent a statement on Tuesday:

I’m just one of many living in downtown Greensboro looking for the same quality of life we all desire.  In this case, it’s obvious that the current noise ordinance doesn’t work. When something doesn’t work you work to fix it. The number of noise complaints called into 911 last year was over 5,000, including mine. However, there were very few citations issued and I believe that is due to the ambiguity and enforceability of the current noise ordinance. If we are going to have a noise ordinance it should be clear and enforceable. I have taken up the cause of our current ineffective noise ordinance and I intend to stay involved until we have a noise ordinance that is in line with our peer communities and allows our officers to respond to the citizens of Greensboro.  

Bo Haeberle lives on the busy Elm Street. He said Carroll and the resident don't speak for him.

"A lot of the noise is actually fun," Haeberle said. "It needs more. If there was more activity here, then it would be good for everything."

"It just adds to the liveliness of downtown," said Alex Amoroso, who owns Cheesecakes by Alex. "Why would you want to stop that?"

Amoroso said he has seen Greensboro come a long way since he opened his store 10 years ago.

"When I moved in in 2002, you could lay down in the middle of the road at 5:00 and never get hit," Amoroso said. "We're headed in the right direction. We have a ways to go. Don't stop it."

Council is expected to vote on the issue at its next meeting April 3.

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