JEFFERSONVILLE — Residents are speaking out against what they say is excessive noise coming from businesses in the downtown area of Jeffersonville.
On Wednesday, a group of people who live in the vicinity of Big Four Station park gathered at Jeffersonville City Hall to protest the situation.
At the center of most of the complaints was Parlour Pizza, which sits across from the entrance to the walking bridge.
Protest organizer Mary Jo Carrico said she called police soon after Parlour opened about live music blaring late into the night. Then she emailed the entire city council and the mayor, to no avail. Police responded that it's difficult to enforce the city's noise ordinance.
"I started to think what is this mystery with the noise ordinance?" Carrico said. "They suggested we get a city liaison, and I think we did. In the end, that didn't do any good. I told Jerry [Griffith] that I guess we're on our own."
Griffith, who lives next door to the popular eatery, said it's not uncommon for the noise to get out of hand.
"My windows shake," Griffith said. "It's like a wild party all the time. You can't go to bed early if you want to. It's become a bar. It doesn't belong in a neighborhood like this. We have a park across the street with kids. It's horrible. I can't sit on my porch."
From Parlour's perspective, however, they aren't doing anything wrong. According to general manager Adam Greene, the loudest the business ever gets is Wednesday night during music bingo, which ends at 9:30 at the latest, he noted. The city's noise ordinance doesn't kick in until 11 p.m., according to Greene and Mayor Mike Moore. (Note: Subsequent reporting showed the ordinance kicks in at 7 p.m.)
Greene added that having the police called has become expected at the restaurant.
"I think we're an asset to the community, to be honest," he said. "We bring jobs. We provide the community with a place to eat and drink with family and friends. Unfortunately, some people just don't see it that way. It's become a running joke amongst our regulars. Especially when they take the decibel meter and we're not even close, or when we're still two and a half hours away from the noise ordinance. It's kind of become routine at this point, so it's not a shock to anybody."
When asked what options police have to enforce code violations, Moore said he asks officers to use common sense.
"There have been a number of complaints over the past year," Moore said. "Parlour has been mindful of the residents around them, but it's a popular place. That's why our downtown is thriving. Our police officers use their best judgment. If they've ever gotten too loud, they've turned it down. I support Parlour. It's been a part of our revival. If you're in the that entertainment district, there's going to be some noise after dark. As long as they're being mindful, we feel they are complying."
Sharing that sentiment is Greene, who said Parlour has worked with neighbors in good faith.
"We've already compromised," Greene said. "We stopped doing live bands out here. We turn the music down when they come. Honestly, it's kind of disheartening, because I think those police officers have something better they could be doing. I'm sure they feel the same way."
Regardless of whether or not the ordinance is being violated, the noise levels have become too much for some residents.
Glenn Zwanzig lived about three houses down from Parlour. After about eight months of living there, he and his wife decided that they had to move.
"My wife couldn't sleep," Zwanzig said. "The front room of the house, it shook. When they did Abbey Road on the River and the house shook all day long for four days, that was the final straw. I understand putting stuff like that on, but Parlour was ridiculous."
Festivals like Abbey Road on the River aren't the issue, protesters said. With those being scheduled months in advance, they can plan for more activity than usual. It's the unexpected noise on any given night that creates frustration.
"We understand some noise, like Abbey Road on the River," Griffith said. "But when you have noise every single night and you have to go to work or have kids that have to go to school, you have to step up and say hold it."
Carrico worries that with the warm weather optimal for outdoor activity coming in the months ahead, things are about to get loud again.
"With the summer starting, we're wondering if they're going to start live music again or if they even care," Carrico said. "Because the noise ordinance is not being enforced, it's creating this big problem. The city's not willing to do anything."
For Moore, situations such as this are a byproduct of a city that has grown as quickly as Jeffersonville. The increased activity downtown, he said, is a better option than what the area used to be.
"We wouldn't have property values doubling if it weren't for the popularity downtown," Moore said. "I remember when there was a lot of crime down there. With growth comes a few inconveniences."
Griffith, however, said she isn't asking for a complete overhaul of downtown. Rather, she just wants the neighborhood to work together in harmony as it grows.
"We keep hearing about progress," Griffith said. "We're not trying to stop progress. We just want someone who respects the neighborhood."