August 03, 2016
It is unfortunate that 37 Main chose to close its doors in Johns Creek and that the facts surrounding this choice have been misrepresented. The City of Johns Creek desired to have the business continue on as a valuable part of the community and the mayor and city staff diligently worked to provide many proposed solutions and options, which would have enabled 37 Main to continue operations in the city. However, after more than 65 noise complaints by residents, eight citations, and two court decisions against 37 Main, it did not appear that the business desired to comply with the city’s noise ordinance.
The city issued 37 Main a business license in March 2014 as a music event facility and restaurant. On June 17, 2014, the city received its first complaint from a neighbor about the loud music coming from 37 Main. The city met with 37 Main and issued a courtesy notice informing them of the neighbor’s complaint and asked them to lower the volume. Over the next six months, 19 neighbor calls were made to 911 stating that the noise emanating from 37 Main up to 2:00 a.m. made it impossible to sleep. During this time, city officials met with 37 Main and attempted to work out solutions to the noise problem. It was not until December 16, 2014, after over six months without resolution, that the city was forced to cite 37 Main for its decision to violate the city’s Nuisance Ordinance.
As the problem continued, the landlord commissioned a sound engineering study which concluded that the building required structural improvements to contain the noise and that 37 Main needed to lower the volume. Neither of these engineering solutions were implemented. 37 Main made some building modifications that reduced the higher volume frequencies, which resulted in some of the neighbors’ issues being resolved. However, the lower frequencies, continued to be a problem for neighbors and the calls to 911 continued.
The city continued to work with 37 Main in an attempt to find a solution, including holding multiple meetings with the neighbors, 37 Main representatives and the building landlord at various times in an attempt to reach common ground. One solution suggested was the construction of a 40-ft wall. The city’s engineers noted that the proposed 40-foot wall (a) violated the city’s height ordinance, (b) presented significant aesthetic issues, (c) would be significantly more expensive to construct than estimated in the report; and (d) could not be constructed completely on the landlord’s property because of its size. Another proposed solution was noise dampening on the roof and additional lowering of volume at the soundboard. Regarding the noise dampening option, the engineering report concluded that it would reduce the amount of bass frequencies, but it was not a guaranteed solution. The landlord asked if the city could guarantee that no further citations would be written if this option was pursued. Because it was unknown how 37 Main’s future operations would impact the effectiveness of the structural changes, the city could not provide such a guarantee. Ultimately, the decision was made to not pursue this option, and 37 Main continued to operate in a similar manner.
Prompted by frequent complaints, City of Johns Creek police officers have spent time both inside and outside of the homes of residents who have made dozens of calls to complain about the noise. Contrary to the assertion of 37 Main, it was left to the judgement of the individual officer to determine whether or not to write a citation based on the officer’s observations. Citations were issued only when in the officer’s judgment the noise coming from 37 Main was so loud or unusual that it would be detrimental or annoying to reasonable people. For every citation issued, the municipal court heard testimony from residents, officers and 37 Main representatives before making its determination whether 37 Main violated the Nuisance Ordinance.
On June 16, 2016 Judge Schaefer found 37 Main’s owners guilty of violating the Nuisance Ordinance on six separate occasions. Judge Schaefer then sentenced 37 Main’s owners imposing monetary fines and conditions on 37 Main’s operation including a curfew. This conviction and sentence follows a similar conviction and sentence which occurred over one year earlier.
None of 37 Main’s citations were based upon the newly amended Nuisance Ordinance. Rather they were found guilty of violating the Nuisance Ordinance that has been in place since they began operating their business. All businesses in Johns Creek are required to comply with the same Nuisance Ordinance.
While it is understandable that many who reside inside and outside our city will be disappointed with the decision 37 Main made to close its doors in Johns Creek, we have an obligation to balance the rights of businesses against the rights of our residents to quietly enjoy the use of their property. Our residents enjoy the many diverse business and entertainment options in the City and recognize the value and benefits such options bring to residents. However, if a business chooses not to comply with the City’s codes, then we also recognize the negative impact this can have on quality of life and property values of residents.
The City, along with our residents, maintain great relationships with the overwhelming majority of businesses in our community and we go to great lengths to work together to resolve any issue that may arise.
Johns Creek has a long history of businesses that have enjoyed success in our city, including those that provide entertainment. The City is confident that it did everything reasonably possible over the past two years to help 37 Main overcome a number of its challenges so it could remain in Johns Creek.
A detailed look at the timeline related to this issue can be viewed here
FAQs can be viewed here