JUSTIN — The lack of a buffer between a residential neighborhood and a nearby bar has resulted in a conflict between council members and residents who say the sound levels at the bar during the weekends are excessive.
The Mule Barn is a bar and grill along FM156 that acts as a local social hub for live music, but the bar is close to a neighborhood where the residents say the music is disturbing during the night.
During a meeting Monday night, council members voted 3-2 against approving an ordinance designed to regulate noise levels throughout the city.
The ordinance would have placed restrictions on sound levels and their durations during various times and days.
The ordinance that was proposed gave music venues the option to apply for sound permits, and some residents argued that showed favoritism to a bar.
The permits would lift restrictions on the maximum sound level and allow for the use of sound equipment.
Residents accused the council of neglecting the concerns of its constituents, which seemed to resonate with some members.
“The bar shouldn’t be allowed to play their music while residents are trying to sleep,” resident Barbara Pitts said.
Council member Diane Rasor admitted to visiting the bar occasionally, but she said the residents have been in the city longer than the bar and they deserve to be heard.
“We need to do the right thing for our citizens,” Rasor said. “We’re not asking the bar to close, we’re just asking them to respect our residents.”
Representatives for the bar did not attend the meeting, but some council members expressed concerns that placing additional restrictions on music venues could hurt the bar’s business.
Council members voted to revisit the ordinance until the disagreements are resolved.
Mayor Greg Scott said he would meet with the owners of the Mule Barn and sound engineers to see if a compromise can be made.
The city has been working on the sound ordinance for about eight months, according to officials. Council member Conrad Jimison said the issue should have been resolved months ago.
“In the time we’ve been designing this ordinance, we could’ve been designing or planning infrastructure changes,” he said.
Council member Stephen Newby said altering the sound ordinance is just a temporary solution to a larger problem. He said having commercial business bumped next to resident zones is an invitation for trouble.
“That’s the bigger problem here,” he said. “Maybe we should start addressing our planning and zoning.”
In other business, the council unanimously agreed to hire The Waters Consulting Group to conduct the search for a new city manager.
City officials said the search could take about two to three months, but the consulting group could speed up the process if the council decides it’s necessary.
“Why speed up the process and risk the chance of making a mistake?” Scott said. “I expect us to take our time to get the best applicants possible.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .