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Sound ordinance could lead to changes around Eureka Springs, Ark.

Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 6:01 PM CDT
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EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KY3) - A sound ordinance in Eureka Springs could force changes to special permits for restaurants and music festivals.

The Eureka Springs City Council met on Sept. 27, looking to change code for amplified sound permits.

This comes after the Bikes, Blues and BBQ festival was officially cancelled over the past weekend. The decision has also made some city officials believe there is a lack of clarification in what events constitute special use permits.

Eureka Springs has several restaurants that feature outdoor seating with frequent live music. While Eureka Springs is a small community, commercial and residential areas are close in proximity. Thus council members say a sound ordinance is understandable.

”Its important so everyone has a clear understanding about who can provide this kind of music, at what decibels and when,” said city council member Terry McClung.

Currently, restaurants can play music under 65 decibels until 10 p.m.

James Devito appreciates it as he has lived and work in the downtown area for several years.

”There’s a number of bed-and-breakfasts here and several hotels,” said Devito. “So there’s a lot of people who would like a goodnight’s rest.”

But, how is it enforced? First, a complaint about the loud noise has to be filed. Then, police will go out and use a decibel meter. The reading in taken from the complainant’s property line. If a violation is evident, then enforcement follows.

”A big thing is we don’t want sound used to lure in customer, because then if everyone is doing it, nobody really benefits,” said Devito.

To operate any later requires a special permit, and how that’s obtained could change with the city’s ordinance. Curfew is a big deal. Special-use permits allow restaurants to play music until 2 a.m. during music festivals.

The key factor for city council is, what events allow restaurants to apply for those special-use permits. Some restaurant owners stated that they believe the new ordinance is directly aimed at them.

”Live music is very important for Eureka Springs because we have to entertain our guests as far as any kind of festival, or special events where the music is extra loud and extra late,” said McClung.

The sound ordinance is scheduled to be discussed by city council on Oct. 11. Yhe goal to clarify what events will allow restaurants to apply for a special use permit.

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