Midtown bar owners make changes after lost money, business from - WSMV News 4

Midtown bar owners make changes after lost money, business from noise complaints

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Midtown Nashville bars and venues have been forced to adapt due to noise complaints and fines. (WSMV) Midtown Nashville bars and venues have been forced to adapt due to noise complaints and fines. (WSMV)

A popular street in Midtown Nashville will be quieting down after several rounds of noise complaints and fines.

Bar owners on Division Street said noise complaints have cost them a lot of business, and one owner decided to make a change.

The second floor of Soulshine Pizza has a different vibe than before.

"We test ran this thing today and ran it as long as we could get it, and I walked outside and I couldn't hear anything," said Chris Sartin, owner of Soulshine Pizza.

Sartin spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to enclose his patio, adding double-paned windows, foam isolation and sound panels to suppress sound. The business usually hosts live bands to play music.

"We ended up in court, and the city made us stop. It wasn't like we wanted to do it, but at the same time what are you going to do? You just got to change with the times," Sartin said.

Channel 4 first reported on the noise complaints from some residents in November. Sartin said his business and others along Division Street in Midtown kept getting cited.

Rhonda Russell, owner of Rebar, hasn't booked any bands since last year. The citations from recorded music could force her to change like Soulshine.

"I think I'm probably going to have to follow suit because it's really affecting business," Russell said. "Then it's nerve wrecking when you do have music because you're holding your breath the entire time wondering, am I going to get in trouble? Is police going to come?"

Condominiums and apartments sit on all sides of the bars, and some who live in the buildings feel it comes with the territory.

"It kind of attracts a lot of people to this area, so it's a little bit weird to be in Music City and them kind of changing up who we are," said Jonathan Holston, a Midtown resident. "It's great that they're adapting, but it's a shame that they have to."

The noise complaints and citations to turn down the music cost the bars business.

"Once everybody had to quit playing loud outside music, we all lost lots of money, everybody here," Sartin said. "For us it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars since January."

Russell said her business was down 50 to 60 percent.

The city's 2008 noise ordinance ranges from restrictions on speakers and what's "audible" to an 85-decibel limit.

Russell thinks the city should stick with one standard to be consistent.

"We try to comply and we lowered it, and they really are trying to work with everyone, I think," Russell said. "The police, I think they're really frustrated like we are because there's nothing really clear."

The bar owners said they hope the changes will be a compromise for residents who've complained.

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