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Council will consider noise ordinance after loud weekend

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Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Farmington city officials have considered a noise ordinance before, but after the past weekend a few council members are more serious about getting one in place.

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Council members got complaints both Friday and Saturday when outside events were held at Tailgaters as part of the new business's grand opening celebration. Bands played outside both evenings.

Farmington police chief Brian Linquist said the police department received six to eight complaints on Friday, but by Tuesday morning, he had not seen any from Saturday's event, which featured the 80s cover band Hairball. However, Farmington mayor Todd Larson received three email complaints and one phone call over the weekend, and council member Jason Bartholomay reported receiving 10 to 12 calls, as well.

Bartholomay and council member Julie May asked city administrator David McKnight during Monday's council meeting to start looking into a possible noise ordinance.

"There was a number of emails, and I think we should at least address the issue," May said. "I know the fairgrounds has and I think the city should show some due diligence in addressing the issue as well."

It will not be the first time council has asked about setting up a noise ordinance. The same conversation came up two or three years ago, Linquist said, after the Farmington American Legion - which was sold and is now Tailgaters - held a series of outdoor concerts and residents complained.

Back then, Lindquist worked with the management to set up a staging area that would be under a tent and face an area with a natural noise buffer. The complaints dropped significantly after those changes were made. Lindquist did not know how the building's new owners had their staging set up this past weekend.

Lindquist has been asked to research what neighboring communities do for a noise ordinance, and how the ordinances are enforced. While the idea is good, he said it is often hard to enforce a noise ordinance simply because every person has a different definition of what is too loud.

"It's all subject to personal opinion. It's impossible to satisfy everyone on something like this. It's absolutely impossible," he said. "Unless the city of Farmington is willing to dole out money to purchase a monitor that measures decibels, it's difficult to say what's too loud."

Linquist also noted that the complaints mentioned came from a relatively small portion of Farmington's 22,000-plus population, and this weekend's activity was the first of its kind all summer.

But Bartholomay still thinks an ordinance is due because the events disrupt families who live nearby.

"I think that for people who have kids who live in that area or have to work early mornings, that would be hard," Bartholomay said.

Bartholomay isn't sure what he would like to see in a noise ordinance, and he doesn't want an ordinance to cause hardship for a business, either. He and Larson are both interested to see what other communities have in place and then see if one can be modified to fit Farmington's needs.

"I think we're going to look at it seriously this time," Larson said. "We'll probably try to mimic what they're doing at the fairgrounds. I think with a little bit of effort we can reduce some of the complaints.

"I don't want to prevent anyone from having events, but they should be under control," Larson added.

McKnight plans to work with Linquist and city attorney Joel Jamnik to come up with some options. He expects council will revisit the issue at a workshop later this fall.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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