Raleigh's Merrimon-Wynne owner allowed to play amplified music outdoors | News

Raleigh's Merrimon-Wynne owner allowed to play amplified music outdoors

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The owner of a restored home turned wedding venue on Raleigh’s Blount Street will be allowed to play amplified music outdoors until March, 2016.

The Raleigh City Council’s unanimous decision Tuesday to grant owner Jodi Heyens an Outdoor Amplified Entertainment Permit, good for a year, comes after neighbors complained at a September hearing that Heyens had been playing music at wedding events without a permit, since she opened her wedding business last winter. Heyens was granted a six-month temporary permit on the condition that she worked to reduce noise disturbance to the neighborhood.

Since the September hearing, which Heyens’ lawyer, Philip Isley, called “lengthy and painful,” Heyens has taken several steps to curb the noise coming from the popular wedding venue and to communicate better with the neighbors.

Each month, Heyens sends out an email to neighbors informing them of all the upcoming events she has scheduled, and makes herself available for neighbors to call and text with problems. Heyens hired a security company to monitor noise while she is hosting events and she checks in regularly with Raleigh police during events to ensure the music is not too loud.

Additionally, Heyens invested $15 to $20,000 in a sound-dampening system for the walls of the outdoor tent structure on her property where bands play music. A similar system is used by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Boeing aircraft to mitigate noise.

“It has worked remarkably well and since her investment in the tent wall, there has not been a single complaint made,” Isley said. 

This December, Heyens plans to close her business for four months to build a structure on the property to host bands. The structure, designed by local Clearscapes architecture firm, has already been approved by Raleigh’s Historic Development Commission. Heyens says the structure should be ready to go by April, 2016 and that she won’t need amplified music permits from the city after that.

Mary Lovelock who lives on neighboring Polk Street said that while there have been no complaints from neighbors since October, the Merrimon-Wynne house has also been hosting fewer outdoor events, since it’s winter time, and people have been keeping their doors and windows closed. Lovelock cited concerns about new condos being built close to the house.

“Noise carries and it’s still a concern for (spring and summer months),” she said. “The people who have not even moved into the condos haven’t had a chance to see how this impacts them.”

Lovelock asked that the Council grant Heyens another six-month temporary extension, but Council gave Heyens the permit for a full year.

“I know you were shaken up last time and it was a long and dramatic night,” Mayor McFarlane told Heyens at Tuesday’s hearing. “I think that you took steps right away to contact everybody and put up the tent and are even taking steps to build a structure really says that you took this seriously.”

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