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Metro Could Revisit Downtown Overnight Noise Ordinance

Posted at 6:40 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 19:40:55-05

It's a question of developers versus residents that the city may soon revisit.

With Nashville's booming urban core, the issue has come up all over town.

"You've got cement trucks lined up as far as the eye can see," said Encore resident Michael Williams in a video he took at 3 a.m. Monday. It showed several, loud trucks parked outside his condo while working on the new Bridgestone building next door. 

"You're woken up every 30 minutes all night long, and this happens at least once every week," Williams told NewsChannel 5. "It sounds like 5,000 vacuum cleaners running at the same time interspersed with loud booms and grinding sounds." 

The building is being developed by Highwoods Properties, which did not immediately return our calls.

But it's hardly an isolated incident downtown, and council member Freddie O'Connell has been making it one of his big issues this year, citing not just construction but also venues in Midtown whose late night music has been affecting residents on that side of town.

"There's nothing in the noise provision of Nashville right now that offers them any protection as residents," he said.

O'Connell said there could be as many as 20,000 downtown residents by 2020.

An ordinance to restrict the noise overnight was withdrawn back in 2015 in favor of a code with much less teeth. It required all builders to have some sort of plan for noise mitigation before receiving a permit to build.

"Everybody said 'Can we leverage common sense and good faith without a legislative approach?' and I think right now what I'm hearing from urban residents is that approach has not worked," O'Connell said.

But it's a balancing act. Builders have voiced time and budget concerns: the longer they can work, the sooner they can finish and leave the neighborhood. 

And without all new businesses, Nashville may not be booming quite as much, attracting new people to town.

Williams doesn't disagree. He just doesn't think construction should happen overnight.

"I love Nashville. I think when all this is done it's going to be perfect," Williams said, gesturing to the Bridgestone building. "However, you don't have to make residents endure sleepless nights to get there."

O'Connell has planned to host community meetings over the next several weeks to include residents and builders. After hearing from them, he has hoped to draft legislation by summertime.

"I think it's reasonable to say there's got to be some protection for quality of life for urban residents," O'Connell said.

Requests for comments from Highwoods Properties and the Nashville chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors were not immediately returned.