Ludington outdoor dining ordinance sent back to committee

March 19, 2013

By Rob Alway


LUDINGTON – Comments from downtown business owners caused city council to send its outdoor dining services ordinance back to committee Monday night during the council’s regular meeting. Nate Petersen, owner of Backstage Hobbies & Games (corrected from previous edit) South James Street and Jeff Nixon of Instrumental Music Store both spoke out against the ordinance’s sound level stipulation.

The ordinance proposal allows eating establishments to provide outdoor dining without the need of receiving permission from the planning commission, provided the guidelines established by the Downtown Ludington Board/Downtown Development Authority are followed.

The ordinance also allows for those establishments to have outdoor entertainment not to exceed sound levels of 90 decibals. Petersen and Nixon both took exception to the 90 decibal maximum.

Petersen, whose business and residence is next to the Blu Moon Bistro, has been vocal in the past about outdoor dining at Blu Moon. He said he thought the 70 decibal proposal, made in a previous draft, was too loud.

“I find the 90 decibal level astromically out of place,” Petersen told the council during public comment.

Nixon said he conducted a test at his store with music playing at 90 decibals. He said it was too hard to even hold a conversation with sound at that level.

“We have discussed the decibals several times at open meetings,” councilor Kaye Ferguson-Holman said later in the meeting. “We have been to committee three times with this.”

Ferguson-Holman made a motion to adopt the ordinance, with a second by councilor Wally Taranko, who was acting as temporary chair in the absence of Mayor John Henderson and Mayor Pro-Tem Gary Castonia.

Councilor Wanda Marrison said the sound levels should be revisited by committee.

“There needs to be something more specific and more detailed,” Marrison said.

“It can be adjusted if it turns out that it is not right,” Feruson-Holman said. “We as a committee chose it as a starting point. We need to start someplace. We can listen to you all summer and if anyone comes in with a problem or a complaint we can listen and we can change it.”

City Manager John Shay said bringing the ordinance back to committee would probably be a good idea.

Ultimately, Ferguson-Holman withdrew her motion and seconded a motion made by Marrison to bring it back to committee. The Buildings and Licenses committee, chaired by Ferguson-Holman, will discuss the topic at its next meeting.