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After City Officials Test Volume, Ft. Mitchell Gives OK to Live Music

Queen's "We Will Rock You" blared from large speakers over the weekend at the former Remke market site.

But, you probably didn't hear it, even if you live nearby.

That was the conclusion of Ft. Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman, Councilman Greg Pohlgeers, and Police Chief Andrew Schierberg, who spent the weekend testing the impact of loud music, should the city give permission for live performances to take place at the site.

The former Remke market building is being redeveloped to house multiple new businesses. David Birdsall, of 360 Properties, sought a text amendment to the zoning code to allow for live music, with plans for acoustic performances at whatever business lands there.

Birdsall said he may announce next week the anticipated lineup of new offerings at the corner of Dixie Highway and Orphanage Road.

The performances would likely be on what was previously the loading dock for the grocery store, which faces Orphanage Road.

Schierberg said that the volume tests were conducted on Friday after 10 p.m. and Sunday after 8:30 p.m.

Using a portable tool to measure decibels, the city officials said that they found the ambient noise - traffic and such - created decibel levels that already surpassed the number allowed by city ordinance, which is 50 db.

"Right now, everyone is against the law," Hehman said.

The tests were conducted ahead of the second reading of Birdsall's sought-after text amendment and followed a meeting last month in which some residents expressed support for the development while holding reservations about the prospect of live music.

The conclusion on Monday night seemed to be that residents would be hard-pressed to hear the live performances.

Schierberg said that some vehicles traveling past the site registered decibels near 80, but when music played, it registered between 50 and 70. On nearby residential streets, the readings were even lower, in the low 40s.

Hehman noted that the city adopted its noise ordinance in 1996, setting the volume at 50 db. But the city is so much noisier now that nearly every business would exceed that.

City council gave its unanimous approval to the text amendment for live music and sound amplification, which also included an adjustment to requirements for the number of parking spaces necessary for outdoor dining, and an allowance for microbreweries (which gives a clue of what is expected to open there).

The vote came after some minor changes were made to the text amendment.

"I talked to a lot of people over the last couple weeks about this," Pohlgeers said. "The overwhelming majority gave me a positive response. The majority of the negatives was the sound. I think we're adding from a legal standpoint, two minor changes, but I think these two minor changes will have a major impact on rectifying those concerns."

The changes restrict live, amplified music to Thursday (6 - 10 p.m.), Friday and Saturday ( 6- 11 p.m.), and Sunday (6 - 9 p.m.), and allow for the volume to be measured from the property line to see if there is a violation of the new 90-decibel rule.

City attorney Corey Gamm, who was filling in for regular attorney Claire Parsons, said that council could vote after the second reading, without cause for a new first reading, because the changes were minor.

"I feel like we're restricting it even more, not expanding it," City Administrator Sharmili Reddy said.

Even with the allowance, Birdsall and others would still have to appear before the board of adjustment after submitting for a conditional use permit.

Afterwards, Birdsall told council that the development has "action" on every space and "hopefully" next week some announcements would be forthcoming.

"I'm really looking forward to making this a phenomenal development," he said. Birdsall noted that his company specializes in purchasing small strip malls for redevelopment. "This is going to be the cover of our pitch book."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher