Neighbors take issue with business noise

by Marianne Gasaway

A number of Clear Lake residents are speaking out against a Clear Lake business which they say is too loud.

At its Oct. 4 meeting, North Shore Drive residents Steve Nicklaus, Bill Yohn and Terry Latimer, owner of the Hilltop Motel, addressed the City Council with complaints about loud music coming from Fiddler’s Lounge, 468 North Shore Dr.  

Earlier this year the business installed garage doors which could be opened street side in an attempt to call attention to the entertainment spot.  

Neighbors say they understand the concept of attracting business with the sound of music, but feel owner Jimmy Clark is allowing music to be played too loud and late into the night.

Clark was not present at the meeting, but had informed those who spoke to him about the matter that he is not in violation of any city ordinance.  Clear Lake does not have a specific noise ordinance.

When contacted after the meeting, Clark declined to comment further.

Nicklaus, Yohn and Latimer each said they have spoken to Clark and their comments were met with opposition.  Each shared with the Council that they are considerate of the importance of Clear Lake’s tourism and entertainment industry.

“I would not want an ordinance that would hamper events,” said Nicklaus, “but one that would be considerate of neighbors would be good.”

Latimer said loud music has led many guests to leave her hotel because their children could not sleep and they were being disturbed by the noise.  She said she has averaged $300 to $500 in refunds on weekends as a result.  She estimated her business loss at $3,000 to $5,000.

“It has impacted me quite negatively,” Latimer told the Council.  “This has never been an issue with the Surf or others before.  We are asking as a courtesy (that something be done).  I don’t think the negative impact is fair for my business.”

Yohn suggested the City could pursue an ordinance which would limit the times the business could have its garage doors open and suggested they be closed at 9 and the music continue indoors only after that.  

“I’m not so concerned about the music as I am with him sharing it,” said Yohn, offering to share a video and audio he shot from this bedroom, located across the street from Fiddler’s. 

Police Chief Pete Roth said no specific ordinance regulates noise levels in the city, however, residents may summon an officer on a complaint of disorderly conduct at the time the disturbance is occurring.

The City Council did not discuss or take action on the issue at the meeting because it was presented during the citizen’s opportunity to address the Council about items not on the agenda.

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