The Powell City Council operations committee is considering a noise ordinance for the downtown area.

The Powell City Council operations committee is considering a noise ordinance for the downtown area.

City officials have discussed a possible plan after some residents complained last fall about late-night music at downtown restaurants.

"Crafting a noise ordinance is not easy, according to Gene (Hollins, city attorney)," city manager Steve Lutz told city council on March 20. "There's not been a great deal of success with local noise ordinances."

Hollins will meet with the operations committee in April to discuss such ordinances and potential conflicts with rights, such as free speech.

"(Hollins) will, quite frankly, try not to raise your expectations too high because of the difficulties in crafting a noise ordinance that (would be) legal and easily enforced," Lutz said.

If the ordinance is based on decibels and a loud truck is allowed to idle while the city targets music being played downtown, it could create issues, he said.

Committee and council member Brian Lorenz said First Amendment issues are involved.

Jessi Iams, owner of the Local Roots restaurant, and property owner Vince Margello attended the meeting. They said they were concerned about the effects such an ordinance would have on local businesses.

Local Roots is one of three restaurants in the downtown area to offer outdoor entertainment in warmer weather.

Lutz said the incidents stemmed from several incidents, with two or three related to Iams' business. He said complaints tend to vary, depending on what music a band is playing, and other factors.

"Certain people might hear some music and like it, and then it might be a genre of music they don't like, and then they call," Lutz said. "The majority of the complaints we received were probably after 11 p.m., so some of it has to do with the time. People will understand there is music going on, but when they're ready to go to bed, it becomes an issue."

Margello said he is concerned the city is targeting only the downtown area.

"Are we also going to complain if someone calls in, who lives next to a park area, of children screaming too loud?" Margello said.

Noise limits don't "make wise business sense if we want the downtown to come alive," Margello said. "I feel like you're almost putting a crunch back on the downtown."

Lutz said any ordinance would cover the entire city, not just the downtown.

"The noise ordinance would not be for a particular area," Lutz said. "You'd have to create uniformity (throughout the city). And the questions you raise are the same questions that everybody at this table has."

Margello said he was concerned the city plans action based on a small number of complaints.

"If you're going to set a noise restriction, why did we build an amphitheater downtown (in Village Green Park)?" Margello said.

Lutz said city employees and elected officials regularly discuss residents' complaints to see if anything should be addressed, and such discussions don't always lead to legislation or restrictions.