The Raleigh City Council on Wednesday created a new set of rules meant to mollify noise complainants in the Glenwood South district.
The new “hospitality district” makes it simpler for venues to get permission to make noise, but the rules also should make it easier for neighbors to complain to the managers of bars and clubs, or even enter mediation.
Described as a pilot program, it will initially be in place for a year, starting in December.
“I have great hopes that it will become the de facto method, that we will have neighbors and businesses downtown working together more constructively,” said Councilman Russ Stephenson.
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The program was born from the increasing conflict between the people who party on Glenwood South and the people who sleep nearby. At Wednesday’s meeting, council members and one resident praised the move toward compromise, though the council also heard concerns from the St. Mary’s Street area, which is two blocks west of Glenwood.
Previously, bars and clubs on the strip had to go through the complicated quasi-judicial process in order to get permission to play music outdoors, or with doors and windows open, at night.
Now, those permits will be issued more easily. The permits allow music to be played with doors and windows open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 p.m. on other days, though they set volume limits between 55 and 60 decibels at the edge of the businesses’ property.
The tradeoff is that venues will have to make a contact person available at all times of operation, and the city will establish a complaint tracking system.
“I think it’s a fantastic way to encourage neighborliness,” said Darcy Downs, who lives on the 600 block of Hillsborough Street.
However, the council heard a complaint from a resident of St. Mary’s Street, who said people in her area didn’t see why they should be part of the district.
Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin moved to approve the pilot, but to shift the border east, so it extends no farther than Boylan Avenue.
Ultimately, the measure passed 6-1 with Baldwin’s suggested adjustment.
Councilman John Odom dissented, because he wanted to keep the larger district. The new rules would have given leverage to apartment residents in the excluded area, he said.