Vail looks at altering its current noise regulations
Backers say move would reflect reality of outdoor entertainment
As more of Vail’s social life moves outdoors, town officials are looking to adapt long-standing rules and regulations, including outdoor noise.
Current rules allow only 65 decibels of outdoor sound in the resort villages. That level, in Vail measured from 10 feet off a permitted area, is only about the noise recorded from normal conversations.
“I’m probably talking to you at 65 right now,” Scott Rednor said in a telephone interview. Rednor, owner of the Shakedown Bar and promoter of various outdoor music events last year, said while he’s never fielded a noise complaint for outdoor sound, he’d appreciate regulations that allow a bit more sound at those outdoor venues.
In fact, the Vail Police Department reports there were only four incident reports filed regarding noise in the resort villages in the summer of 2020. Those incident reports came from 20 calls for service, many made by the same reporting parties.
Most people contacted by officers turned down their music or were already in compliance with town regulations. Others were in the range of 65 to 80 decibels
A memo to the Vail Town Council from the police department states that boosting the allowable noise from 65 to 80 decibels “would remove the complexity of the time and level that a sound could exceed the allowed decibels in the current code.”
The recommendation states that the level could be increased from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We feel like the proposed changes would resolve many issues,” Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger told the council at its March 16 meeting.
Town Manager Scott Robson called the proposal a “pragmatic” way to address the town’s current in-village entertainment scene.
“We really want to keep things relatively narrow, not to allow a free-for-all, but what you’re hearng out there now.”
Robson added that a proposed 80-decibel limit is in line with other resort communities.
Council members seemed to agree with the recommendation.
Council member Jenn Bruno suggested one change for summer hours, with changing the proposed period from a strict 8 p.m. to 8 p.m. or sundown, whichever is later.
Rednor said outdoor music was a key element in the town’s economic success in the summer of 2020.
“So many businesses thrived instead of survived,” Rednor said. At Shakedown Bar, the summer of music evolved a bit, with some electric instruments added to the mix later in the season. But, Rednor added, he doesn’t expect much to change, at least at his place, if the new regulation is added to the town code.
“It’s not like people are going to be able to turn it (way) up,” he said.
Mayor Dave Chapin, a minority partner in Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village, said he’d welcome the change. Chapin called the proposed changes “very workable,” adding that residential and other areas of town will still be governed by existing limits.
“Let’s get it on an agenda,” Council member Kevin Foley said. “Let’s see what the public thinks.”
Here are examples of loudness, according to an on line chart from Purdue University. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB):
50 dB: Conversation at home; large electrical transformers at 100 feet.
60 dB: Conversation in a restaurant or office; outdoor air condition unit at 100 feet.
80 dB: A home garbage disposal.
90 dB: A loud motorcycle at 25 feet.