Loud concerts at outdoor stage raise concerns with Avondale residents

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A neighbor living in Avondale called us – concerned about the loud music that comes from a nearby business. After years of asking city leaders for help, he is now turning to CBS 42 to see if anything more can be done.

Several residents have now shared their concerns with us on how loud concerts can get at Avondale Brewing Company in the neighborhood that stretches around it.

“It’s like a stadium or something like a football game or the Super Bowl. That’s how loud it can be out here sometimes,” said decades-long resident Thomas Edwards. “If they have a concert over there now, we’re going to be up until 12, one o’clock and might not go to bed until two o’clock.”

From his porch you can feel the vibrations when bands crank up the bass.

“We gotta go to work, we’ve got bills to pay and all,” Edwards said.

Down one block from him, Kayla Jones says it drowns out music they play at their home.

“It’s very loud, it’s definitely loud,” Jones said. “My mother, she sometimes complains about it because of the loudness especially after nine. We can’t enjoy ourselves out here because of the music.”

We took these concerns directly to the brewery.

“This year you’re starting to see bigger acts come in as Avondale’s reputation has kind of grown nationally, we’re starting to attract bigger and bigger acts,” Co-owner Michael Sellers said.

According to Sellers, when it comes to volume, Avondale models venues like Stubbs in Austin, Texas that don’t exceed 100 decibels. Sellers said they have a device to check at varying locations around the stage and venue all night long.

“What we started doing probably as early as 2018, was looking for ways to help mitigate the sound but also work on policy that would help so everybody could co-exist,” Sellers said.

City Councilman Hunter Williams oversees public safety in the city. He said police are constantly checking up on Avondale to see if they are breaking the rules.

“We have a very hard time in the city enforcing a noise ordinance because it is kind of up to discretion,” Williams said. “A lot of times what people feel is an obnoxious noise or could be a noise complaint, they might be in compliance with the law.”

The city’s ordinance prohibits loud noises, “More than 50 feet from the building, structure or open space, which either annoys, disturbs, or injures or endangers the health, peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities.”

But for every show, the brewery must obtain a noise permit to keep the concerts going. The venue agrees to end shows by 10 p.m. except with special permission. All concerts must be approved by the city.

“I think that having noise stopping at 10 p.m. is striking that balance and I think that looking at ways that we can have an ordinance that is more enforceable and allows some self-reporting also is a big win for the residents,” Williams said.

That self-reporting is something Avondale Brewing tells us it just launched in 2021.

“I would take that out of the ‘it feels as if’ and move it into the science aspect of it,” Sellers said.

Both Williams and Sellers agree having a measurable decibel reading mandated by law is necessary because letting an officer decide by feeling isn’t consistent.

“If both sides meet in the middle, I think that we can have both happy restaurant-hospitality venues as well as protecting the rights of our residents,” Williams said.

But, the effort will take the work of both neighbors and a sound engineer to strike that balance.

“It effects the neighborhood because we all have to stay here as well,” Jones said.

The city said it is working with the venue to have them self-report these decibel readings. Avondale said with a level set by law, it can then enforce that level in band contracts, then fine them for violating it. In turn, possibly giving that money right back to the city.

As for the neighbors, the brewery wants to hear from you directly to help keep the peace.

Any time you need to file a noise complaint you can dial 311 and an officer will come out to investigate.

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