The Lake Shore City Council agreed on a split vote Monday, Jan. 28, to establish a committee to meet at least once to talk about one couple’s complaints in the past couple of years about noise from Zorbaz and other sources.
The committee will include Dave Baldwin and John Ingleman of the Planning and Zoning Commission; council members John Poston and Krista Knudsen; Lee Johnson, owner of Zorbaz; Michelle Zirbes, the concerned party; police chief Steve Sundstrom; and city administrator Teri Hastings.
The council discussed whether such a committee was needed, and whether it would convey false hope to the Zirbeses. Council members Doug Miller and Susan Amacher voted against forming the committee, believing it wasn’t necessary in light of the city’s noise ordinance, which Zorbaz has been meeting.
Johnson said it was ludicrous to form such a committee.
“This is a personal issue somewhere along the line,” he said.
“There is so much noise in that channel that is not created by Zorbaz. Living on the channel is going to create that,” Johnson said, noting the noise snowmobiles create this time of the year.
“We can turn our speakers off outside and there’s still noise you can hear. Sometimes the volume of people outside creates the noise,” he said.
“I think you’re really setting a precedent here when the squeaky wheel gets oiled,” Johnson added. “Literally, it’s one person.”
Johnson said Zorbaz does 80 percent of its business in the summer, 80 percent of that on weekends and 50 percent of that between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. He said Zorbaz contributes a small part of the noise that goes on in the channel and only for three months of the year.
Joe Newfield lives in the Bar Harbor townhomes. “We hear the noise at night and the real problem is boats buzzing through the channel,” he said. “I chose to live here.”
Tim Moore said more than one person is complaining. He said he wasn’t sure why the city council would stand in the way of people getting together to solve a problem.
“What does it hurt to address it?” Moore asked, noting he applauded the planning commission for recommending the committee be formed.
Amacher pointed out that all times the police chief, mayor and others have recorded decibel levels at Zorbaz, they’ve never exceeded ordinance levels.
Moore asked that Lake Shore look at its current noise ordinance and how it’s being applied and compare that to other cities.
“Put people together to solve a community problem. What’s the down side to working through that?” he asked.
In March 2011, the city held a public hearing where it considered a requirement that outdoor speakers be turned off earlier than the 2 a.m. bar closing time. The council didn’t take that action, but agreed to enforce its noise ordinance, which requires that music be no louder than 60 decibels at the property line.
At that hearing, Bruce and Michelle Zirbes said they had bought their cabin on Harold Lane, about a quarter mile from Zorbaz, several years earlier and that their home’s former owners said they were never bothered by noise at Zorbaz.
However, the Zirbeses said the noise does bother them, and they have called Lake Shore police frequently to complain about hearing and feeling the thumping of bass.
At that time, Johnson agreed to stop loud outdoor games at Zorbaz.