Concerns that a Star Valley bar is operating too nosily led to a discussion at the latest Star Valley Town Council meeting among residents and business owners.
The council had scheduled to hold the first reading of an ordinance to regulate noise in the town at its Feb. 16 meeting, but changed course when several residents attended to discuss the matter.
The proposed ordinance was developed at the request of Mayor Gary Coon and Councilor Ray Armington, said Tim Grier, town manager and attorney. The request was in response to complaints from residents of the Lamplighter RV Resort about outside music at the Tonto Rim Bar & Grill.
Several residents who wanted to address the issue attended the meeting. As such, Grier said the matter could be a discussion rather than a first reading. The council opted to have a general discussion instead of a formal public hearing.
Grier said he had heard from Roy Haught and Bob O’Connor on the proposed ordinance and both were concerned that a noise ordinance would affect when they could start operating the trucks they use in their businesses.
“We don’t need to hurry into this,” Coon said.
Dean Mikelson, owner of the Tonto Rim Bar & Grill, said, “We don’t have music past 10 p.m., so it (the proposed ordinance) doesn’t affect my business. But I want it to be fair to all of us.”
Stephanie Mikelson, who owns the bar with her husband, added, “What’s the baseline data? What do other communities use? I agree we need something and it is fair for everyone.”
Not everyone at the Lamplighter is upset about the outdoor music at the Tonto Rim Bar & Grill. One resident said, “I moved here last June. It’s part of the fabric of the community and I would hate to see it changed.”
A couple of musicians were concerned about the details of the proposed ordinance: would it be determined by the level of sound inside the bar, outside the bar or across the street.
Coon said the town needed to take a serious look at daytime decibel levels.
Councilor Bobby Davis said he was concerned about restricting the sound of construction.
Councilor George Binney asked if outdoor events were included in business licenses.
“They’re not part of business licenses. We try to be hands off with businesses,” Grier said.
Both Binney and Armington wanted the decibel levels tested. “Test it for real, not with computer models. Set it up and have a band play outside,” Armington said.
“We know we have a problem with noise from the Tonto Rim Bar, most of the complaints come from residents at the Lamplighter. And there’s been lots of law enforcement involvement. I’d hate to see an ordinance that restricts (the business),” Grier said.
Mikelson said he could look into something to mitigate the noise and is open to suggestions. “I would like it not to go through,” he said of the proposed ordinance.
“Try a taller wall first and if it doesn’t work, then we can consider an ordinance. Does that work?” Coon said.
“Yes,” Mikelson replied, adding, “Most of the calls I had were from visitors from the Valley.”