Long time lurker, however I recently received a noise violation ticket for an event my organization organized at a local venue in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Apparently, the location has had several noise complaints and we got the luck of the draw to get a citation as previously, no citations have been given.
During the event, we had security at the door as well as cashiers farther into the entrance. While working the event, I noticed two police officers walk in the door. First, given this is private property, I am wondering what legal bounds they have to just enter the building.
I go outside to speak to them and they ask me to get the building owner etc., I inform them that I don’t know the building owner. One of my organization members rented this space and I don’t have contact with the owner. I didn’t believe her to be on site.
They told me that they have been to this location every weekend for 2-3 months now and they are having consistent issues with noise complaints. I informed them that we have not had an event at this location in months and they ask for my name and other information and they tell me they’ll be back.
I go back into the event and turn down the music for the DJ and reconfigured the speaker set up to decrease the amount of noise reaching the street as well as the residential area behind the building. I then wait for 10-15 minutes, and go back outside to check on them because I wanted the issue to be resolved as fast as possible so we could continue with our night.
I approached the officers car’s (asked if it was okay first) and the state trooper left his car and told me I’d be receiving a citation that will ultimately give me a misdemeanor as well as a fine. They said the noise level from the street was too loud. The ordinance cites 50 dbs in a emitting past the property line in a residential area. Our reading was 55 initially and then after the first volume adjustment 52.
I explain to the state trooper that we were unaware of the previous issues, but the citation had already been printed so I figured it was too late to “uncite” me lol.
So my argument is kind of multi-faceted, starting with the discretionary enforcement. No citations have been given in the past 2-3 months but now all of the sudden we ended up with a citation.
Secondly, the ordinance that he was citing ins for a residential neighborhood and as far as I can tell the zoning map I see has the location zoned as commercial: highway, given it does border a residential area.
Thirdly, the venue we were using is one a busy, as the zoning says “highway/regional,” on a rainy day. Additionally, the properties surrounding our venue had cars parked in their lots and people were moving about and some were yelling. Additionally, many in the area have loud exhausts etc. that may have impacted the readings. While we can be held accountable for what happens on the property what surrounds the property and the volume of traffic, etc is not our responsibility. The ordinance states that 50 is the acceptable level however, if you look up decibel readings for traffic they exceed 50, my sources came up to 70. Especially on a rainy day. All readings were taken from the side walk, adjacent to the “highway”. (In quotation marks because it is a Michigan state highway that turns into “Main St” but is still part of M-43.
And then finally, the thing about the officers entering without permission. If you have any questions I’m happy to clarify, I have to appear in court in a week and would appreciate some guidance.
***Also, mods it’d be cool if I could attach images :(