MILTON, Ga. — Postponed by nearly a year, Matilda’s music venue received its first review from the City Council Nov. 13. The discussion was required as part of the council’s conditions when it allowed the venue’s relocation to the Birmingham Crossroads area last summer. A delay in opening the venue pushed the review to the end of the first full concert season, which closed Oct. 31.
The purpose for the review is to judge the establishment’s impact on the area, and it was clear from the outset that sound levels was the key issue.
“We’ve had no trouble with the litter, no trouble with the parking, no trouble with traffic or pedestrians,” City Manager Steve Krokoff said. “Just some of the issues we’re dealing with is the neighbors with complaints of noise at their homes.”
Some nearby homeowners have complained about being able to hear music from concerts inside their homes.
A resident of the Breamridge subdivision spoke on behalf of the neighborhood’s homeowner’s association at the meeting, saying the neighborhood is supportive of Matilda’s, but they do take issue with noise levels. He said residents are requesting the venue’s peak noise level be limited to 65 decibels.
The City Council already lowered the allowable sound level in September. Originally, Matilda’s was permitted to have a continuous decibel level of 75, but the council lowered that figure to 70.
The city received over a dozen calls with noise complaints from the venue during its first season, but Matilda’s was found to be within its noise limit on each occasion. Milton also contracted an independent acoustics and vibration consultant that found the venue compliant.
However, the Breamridge request is to limit the noise level a 65-decibel limit on peak noise, not continuous.
During their discussions, the City Council considered how it could change the decibel limit.
City Attorney Ken Jarrard said there are two options, including the business requesting a change to the conditions of the special use permit, which was the case when the council lowered the decibel level in September. Otherwise, the city could initiate a change, but Jarrard said that sets up a zoning procedure that would include weighing landowner’s rights.
One resident who spoke during the public comment of the portion warned against further changes. She said Matilda’s is a unique business, and that if it were unable to operate, a business replacing it could be worse for neighbors.
Curtis Mills, the owner of the Matilda’s property, said coming back every six months for a review would be unwarranted, but he did state he and the business owners would be willing to come back before the council “anytime” they asked.
Councilwoman Carol Cookerly said she has been impressed with the progress Breamridge residents and Matilda’s have made on mitigating noise issues, and she would like the city to step in only if absolutely necessary.
“As little as we can intervene and people do the right thing is where I am, but if we need to intervene, we’ll do it,” she said.