Council tables noise ordinance, talks downtown cameras
The council will reconsider the noise ordinance May 3.
Apr. 20, 2010
City Council voted Monday to put off changing city ordinances on downtown noise for another two weeks.
The ordinance would create a special downtown area that has fewer restrictions on noise than in the surrounding city.
The council voted unanimously down a pre-existing proposal so it could introduce a new one May 3 that includes input from the Special Business District, a group of downtown business owners.
On Wednesday, the SBD gave feedback on the ordinance, but the council did not have time to review it. One of the most important changes involves police gaining the ability to fine individual patrons making noise, rather than the business they are in at the time.
Mayor Bob McDavid said even though the proposal has been tabled several times, the council would vote on the noise ordinance soon.
"We fully intend to reintroduce it," McDavid said. "We fully intend to have a viable noise ordinance for downtown."
Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley said in an interview before Monday's meeting he supported the Special Business District's recommendations.
"What we're looking at here is an issue of respecting people," Dudley said.
Downtown bar and restaurant owners hired Don Stamper, Central Missouri Development Council executive director, to give suggestions on how to change the ordinance.
Stamper said the SBD's recommendations might not make all parties in the area happy but would help blend the needs of businesses and homeowners.
"It's not perfect," Stamper said. "But it's better than what we have in place right now."
Although the council did not vote on the ordinance change, it did discuss the SBD's recommendations.
First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe both said giving tickets to individual patrons would discourage business from controlling their customers.
SBD Executive Director Carrie Gartner said the group did not want to free business owners, particularly bar owners, from all responsibility over noise in their establishments.
"The intent of the board was not to make bars completely not liable," Gartner said. "If someone or many people are making noise inside a bar than the bar should be responsible for it."
In other business, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton spoke to the council about implementing Proposition 1, installing surveillance cameras downtown. Burton said he had met with downtown business owners who said they favored less obtrusive cameras than the trailer models the department considered last year.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser said if Burton chooses to implement cameras downtown, he should report to the council when it is discussing the city's budget. Nauser said Burton should present information about what kinds of crimes or problems the cameras have helped solve.
Nauser, who spoke out against Proposition 1, said she did not want to prevent cameras from being installed but wanted the council to know why the expense was justified. The council voted 5-2 in favor of a motion to introduce a resolution to that effect.
"All I'm asking is that we have data on what crimes the cameras help solve if the cameras are implemented," Nauser said. The council meeting was McDavid's first as mayor and a first for Dudley and Third Ward Councilman Gary Kesphol. It was a relatively brief meeting, lasting less than two and a half hours.
"It went smoothly," McDavid said. "At least it was short."