Residents Complain Matthew’s Market Produces Excessive Noise

March 10, 2010

A West University Place resident is so upset about noise coming from the recently opened Matthew’s Market on Edloe Street that he took extreme care to prepare a meticulous complaint and presented it to the West U. City Council on Monday. But so far, decibel readings indicate the noise level complies with city laws.

Rick Gardner said he has lived in the 3600 block of Amherst Street for 43 years with no problems from commercial tracts on Edloe Street, which are behind his property, across Poor Farm Ditch. Matthew’s Market is his first complaint, and he’s taking it seriously.

“I would like to go to sleep at night without listening to the roar of Mr. Reid’s generators,” Gardner said. “Gentlemen, I’d like a little peace and quiet.”

He said his attempts to reach an amicable solution with Matthew’s Market owner Jim Reid failed. So he prepared 14 photographs, a 10-minute audio recording and organized five neighbors to sign complaint letters that claim the grocery store and restaurant harms Amherst Street residents’ quality of life and decreases their property values.

Matthew's Market Complaint

Six residents of Amhearst Street, behind Matthew's Market, complained the store makes too much noise from equipment and outdoor diners.

Neighbors are complaining about noise from mechanical equipment behind the market, noise from customers dining on the patio, and bright lights coming from the building at night. They are also concerned about the safety of a chain link fence between the store and Poor Farm Ditch.

During the public comment section of Monday’s city council meeting, Gardner asked the city to take action to relieve the constant noise from the market’s mechanical equipment.

Reid did not immediately return messages seeking comment, but InstantNewsWestU will update this story if he does.

The council assured Gardner they took his concerns seriously.

“I think you can be completely confident every member of this council is going to be following up with staff about this,” said Councilman George Boehme, who himself owns another restaurant on Edloe Street. “You can rest assured we are all going to be on top of this.”

Public Works Director Chris Peifer said staff members with the code enforcement and zoning departments visited Matthew’s Market on Monday in response to the residents’ complaint.

“The staff walked the property with the owner and pointed out a few things, some of which were tied to the complaint and others that were discovered as they walked through,” Peifer said.

Staffers found violations in the building’s outdoor lighting, one of the residents’ complaints. Also, outdoor tables were placed in a rear employee parking spot that was supposed to remain clear, and indoor tables were arranged to allow greater density than previously approved. Peifer said he thinks Reid plans to work with the city to resolve the issues.

The city plans to investigate further about the residents’ most pressing complaint — Noise from the equipment and outdoor patio. The West U. noise ordinance allows 70 decibels, measured from the property line, which is in the middle of Poor Farm Ditch in this case.

In previous measurements, noise from Matthew’s Market complied with the city’s noise ordinance. But Peifer said levels could be different with new equipment, or when all machines are operating at the same time.

The city’s code enforcement officer has already visited the property multiple times since the residents complained to take decibel readings, said City Planner Debbie Scarcella. So far, noise has not exceeded 68 decibels, which is legal under city laws. But city staff plan to take more measurements over the course of the week.

“We want to go out and get a reading that is indicative of what the residents are experiencing,” she said. “One random reading may not be indicative of what they experience when it’s a full, packed house.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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