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Justin needs sound solution

The conflict in Justin between residents and City Council members about the lack of a buffer between a residential neighborhood and a nearby bar reminds us just how much things have changed.

Most municipalities now have zoning restrictions or noise ordinances in place, but longtime residents of the county can probably remember a time when such guidelines weren’t as common.

Every community experiences growing pains — shouted arguments over rezoning proposals or tougher city ordinances have echoed through most city or town halls at one time or another.

We have no doubt that early settlers probably complained about the wild celebrations of exuberant saloon customers and demanded that passing cattle drives be required to follow trails giving wide berth to their log cabins.

But with the passage of time and patient compromise, most cities have managed to balance the needs and desires of business owners and residents.

Judging from the results of Monday night’s council meeting, however, Justin is not yet among them.

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 duration 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, but other council members expressed concerns that placing additional restrictions on music venues could be bad for some local businesses.

Council members voted to revisit the ordinance until the disagreements are resolved, and Mayor Greg Scott said he would meet with the owners of the bar and sound engineers to see if a compromise can be made.

We hope he is successful in working out a plan that resolves the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.

That isn’t always possible, but Justin officials have indicated they are willing to try, and we encourage all parties involved to work together to find a solution.

We can understand that residents are growing impatient. The city has been working on the sound ordinance for about eight months, according to officials, and one council member told us that the issue should have been resolved months ago.

We can also understand the concern of some council members that placing additional restrictions on music venues could hurt the bar’s business. But in the final analysis, we believe that city leaders should listen to residents who are complaining about noise disrupting their sleep.

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 residential areas is an invitation for trouble.

We agree, and the longer city officials wait to deal with this issue, the worse the problem will become.