Crow’s Feet Commons will have to keep the noise down for several concerts the venue plans to hold this spring.
The Bend City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to uphold City Manager Eric King’s denial of applications the downtown business submitted so it could have noise above the normally allowed level.
The council’s decision won’t prevent concerts this spring because they’re already booked, Crow’s Feet Commons manager Dan Baumann said. But if the planned concerts, particularly the two associated with the national Subaru Winterfest on March 15 and 16, don’t go well because of the noise limits, they won’t return in 2020, he said.
“If we’re not able to produce that show for them, they’re going to find another spot and move it out of downtown,” Baumann said.
Bend permits noise at 70 decibels — an equivalent noise level to a vacuum cleaner — in commercial areas. Crow’s Feet Commons asked for permission to exceed that limit by 15 decibels during two events in the fall and six events from January through April in 2019.
The new noise level requested was 85 decibels, the noise level of a diesel truck.
Councilor Barb Campbell, who supported Crow’s Feet Commons in its appeal of King’s decision, said it was important to recognize the business was requesting a variance for music. It wouldn’t be 80 or 85 decibels all night, but that limit would allow for a crescendo or a cheering crowd.
“You’re looking for that kind of zone in between 70 and 85,” she said.
King rejected most applications, though he approved a permit for Crow’s Feet Commons to hit 75 decibels — the equivalent of a dishwasher — on March 22, 2019, for an Apres Ski Bash concert.
The March 22 concert was the only one not scheduled on a date when the nearby Tower Theatre was holding events.
Those conflicts in scheduling arose after Crow’s Feet Commons booked its concerts, Baumann said. Crow’s Feet Commons looks at the theater’s calendar when it’s booking shows, he said.
“There were no conflicts on the calendars that we were aware of,” he said. “If we don’t see them and have access to their books or their records, how are we supposed to know what weekends are good and what weekends are bad?”
In letters to the city, Baumann and Crow’s Feet Commons owner David Marchi said Tower Theatre should soundproof its performance space.
The main opposition to Crow’s Feet Commons’ request for noise variances came from Tower Theatre, but one resident also asked the City Council to reject it. Peter Loeffler, who lives across the river from Crow’s Feet Commons, said the business has upped the number of concerts it hosts during the past couple of years.
“These range from annoying if you’re trying to sit outside to a couple that rattled the pictures in frames in our house,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell said she’s tried to work with Tower Theatre and Crow’s Feet Commons on finding solutions to their issues. She wouldn’t support the appeal because the events are in the winter, when she says downtown gets quieter earlier than it does in the summer.
“It’s a really different environment at 10 p.m. in the wintertime than 10 p.m. in the summertime,” she said.
Councilor Nathan Boddie, who supported the Crow’s Feet Commons appeal, said events like the winterfest and the winter concerts Crow’s Feet Commons hosts with Mt. Bachelor’s support are a part of what makes Bend the city it is. He said he didn’t want the city to limit music, drawing a comparison to the small town in “Footloose” that banned dancing when the majority of the City Council voted against the appeal.
“Where’s Kevin Bacon when you need him?” Boddie asked
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