Decibel debate in Uptown reaches a sound solution

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2012 - 11:31 PM

With the threat of regulation, bars acted on their own, lowered the volume.

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Minneapolis City Council Members Barbara Johnson, Meg Tuthill and Lisa Goodman.

Photo: Stubbe, Glen, Star Tribune

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A year after Uptown bars fiercely battled a city proposal to limit outdoor noise, there appears to be peace in the valley.

Council Member Meg Tuthill, who represents the Uptown area, drew fire last year from local businesses after proposing stricter rules around outdoor capacity and a ban of outdoor amplified music after 10 p.m. She said it was in response to residents' complaints.

The proposal was eventually delayed to see whether the businesses could self-regulate. It looks like it worked.

At a friendly meeting of the Uptown Outdoor Area Task Force Wednesday night in a back room of Cafeteria -- which has one of the most popular rooftops in Uptown -- Tuthill announced that complaints had disappeared.

"Guess how many complaints I got this summer about the noise from Uptown? Zero," Tuthill told the crowd of business owners and city staffers. "Zero!"

Grant Wilson, the city's head of business licensing, said Thursday that he agreed with Tuthill's assessment.

The success follows a number of self-imposed initiatives aimed at reducing noise:

• Bars with outdoor seating agreed to keep music at a "standard background level" after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

• After a sound study, businesses rearranged their speakers to limit noise leakage.

• Business owners pay for more police patrols in the Hennepin-Lake area on weekends.

• The city installed a number of taxi stands in the area.

• New parking options, such as the lot that came with the recently completed Mozaic building, translate to fewer people parking in residential neighborhoods.

Dan McElroy, president of Hospitality Minnesota, a restaurant trade association, said his members tell him business has been good following the changes.

"We can be good neighbors and still do good business," McElroy said, adding, "This is not a project; It's a process. We're not done."

Randy Stanley, a vice president of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, which owns Cafeteria, said the noise-reduction plan was "a good example of the positive effects that can occur when local businesses work together with neighbors, regulatory officials, police and the City Council to objectively define problems and determine workable solutions with measurable results."

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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