Midtown bars battle noise ordinance after complaints

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – We may be Music City, but several Midtown bars are battling a noise ordinance for their tunes.

Several businesses in the area have stopped having live music all together, while others are making significant changes.

Chris Sartin tells us music is the foundation to his Midtown business, Soulshine Pizza Factory. The outdoor patio has hosted bands for four years without any problems, but this year it’s been silenced. The move comes after Soulshine received more than 15 citations from police within a couple of months, claiming his business is in violation of a noise ordinance.

“It’s a little bit ridiculous and this is Music City,” Sartin told News 2.

Soulshine has already taken several steps to accommodate the complaints. They stopped having live music on the patio at the end of the year and they start construction this week to enclose the patio.

“Closing in the patio itself is gonna cost 6 figures.”

Sartin goes on to explain the laws are very vague. It states that prerecorded music must be limited to the 85 decibel limit and that if an establishment is conducting ‘business’ where there is noise which is ‘plainly audible’ from the closest residential property line, then it would be in violation.

Councilman Freddie O’Connell agrees the law isn’t clear.

“There’s a lack of clarity. The environmental court referee has concluded that there is a couple pieces of the metro code in conflict with one another,” O’Connell told News 2.

Soulshine isn’t the only Midtown business dealing with noise violations.

“My residents have been calling the police,” said O’Connell.

Winners, Losers, Rebar, Kun Fu Saloon and Blue Bar are among those that have been slapped with fines.

“The music is so loud that people can’t sleep or can’t just enjoy time in their time at home on say a Sunday afternoon,” O’Connell explained.

He told News 2 the ordinance hasn’t been touched in years.

“The difference is now we got a proliferation of businesses that have music surrounded by residential high rises and both are expanding in number.”

He sums up the problem as growing pains.

“Nashville in a lot of ways is a victim of its own success,” expressed Sartin.

Soulshine Pizza hopes to have music back on their patio by the first of March.

There is an online petition to ease the noise restrictions. It has more then 7,000 signatures.

Councilman O’Connell tells us he is working with the Vice Mayor to take a closer look at the ordinance and hopes to come up with a plan that works for businesses and neighbors in the near future.