As debate over noise ordinance continues, public information sessions planned

As debate over noise ordinance continues, public information sessions planned

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - For more than a month, Wilmington elected officials and staff have been grappling with proposed changes to the city’s noise ordinance.

No date has been set for a vote on the proposed changes, and on Monday, July 15, city staff are expected to appear at another Wilmington City Council agenda briefing to present further study and changes to the wording of the update.

Restaurant, bar and venue owners across the city have expressed concern over the new language, with some feeling it will stifle their ability to run a profitable business.

That’s why, city spokesperson Malissa Talbert said, the city is partnering with Wilmington Downtown, Inc. (WDI) and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce to host a series of informational sessions for the public.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

Monday, July 15, Sponsored by WDI, Inc.

Hannah S. Block Historic USO & Community Arts Center

120 S. Second Street

6-8 p.m.

Thursday, July 18, Sponsored by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Northeast Regional Library, David M. Paynter Assembly Room

1241 Military Cutoff Road

6-8 p.m

A representative for the city attorney’s office will present the proposed changes, and will be available to answer questions from the public.

While the meetings are designed primarily for business owners, the general public is invited as well.

Ray Baca, who owns two event venues in downtown Wilmington, said he is glad to see the meetings happening, given the city is not required to have a public hearing.

“I think Monday is going to help," he said. “At first they said they weren’t going to do any public forums, and I’m glad that between WDI and whoever else made that happen, thank you guys.”

Communication

Despite the meetings being set before the July 4th holiday, several downtown business owners reported not knowing about them until contacted by WECT.

Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of WDI, said his organization had sent direct messages to merchants and business owners, and a spokesperson for the chamber said their members would be getting emails as well.

Neither WDI or the chamber had the meetings listed on their event calendars when WECT asked about them, though Wolverton said he would look into further promoting the sessions on WDI’s website.

As far as the general public, the city sent out a press release Thursday afternoon with the details, and has the information on the proposed changes on the city website.

Talbert said in recent weeks the conversations between the city, council and stakeholders have been positive, and they think much of the “misinformation” that permeated social media has gone away.

By giving residents and business owners the ability to ask questions directly, she said she hopes the meetings will further that trend.

“More than likely, I would hope, once a concerned resident has the actual information in front of them, and they have everything that’s accurate right in front of them, hopefully their concerns will be allayed at that time," she said.

Baca said he still feels there has been somewhat of a lack of communication about exactly how the proposed changes will work, which he said is another reason he is glad the community meetings are taking place.

“I think everybody needs to go. This is definitely not a downtown issue, it’s not a bar issue. I mean, it affects your backyard bbqs, it affects wedding venues, it affects everybody," he said. "So I think everybody should really be paying attention to this and we should all go to these meetings. And one, get educated, if that’s what it’s going to be, but we need to know what’s going on.”

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