Regardless of the somewhat sensational Bluffton Town Council meeting on Jan. 14, I believe the mayor, Town Council and staff did an exemplary job in preparing an amendment to the noise ordinance. As proposed, it would resolve many issues and provide a clearer path for future development.
The intent of the amendment is as much about restoring harmony between residents and businesses within a mixed-use district as it is about addressing the right to quiet enjoyment of one's property. Such a delicate balance requires compromise and the willingness for all to be good neighbors.
Opposition was raised to applying the amended noise ordinance to the entire 54 square miles of Bluffton. Much of the amended ordinance was created due to problems in Old Town and, specifically, one Calhoun Street bar/restaurant with bad manners, and outdoor entertainment that is generally provided at rock concert volumes several days a week. If you don't live nearby, you cannot imagine how dreadful this nightly noise can be.
Perhaps the town should consider only applying the amended ordinance to the Neighborhood Center Historic District (centering on Calhoun and Boundary streets) where the problem exists and will likely continue as new restaurants and entertainment venues move in.
Old Town is unique and needs special restrictions to remain that way. If the volume coming from outdoor entertainment cannot be contained within its own property boundaries, it should be taken indoors or prohibited.