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Decibel limit debate draws dozens to town meeting
Updated on: 05.02.13

Consistency, vision -- and more volume -- are what attendees of tonight's town council meeting asked of the board.

About 50 people made good on their Facebook promises to attend the meeting, to talk about decibel limits on outdoor music. Many of them were fans of or performers in the Big Woods Brewing Co. Rally in the Alley concert series -- which, Big Woods co-owner Jeff McCabe announced last week, will no longer be staged.

Last week, McCabe and his partners received a certified letter from town administration laying out eight conditions under which a rally planned for Saturday, May 4 could occur. Among them was a sound pressure limit of 80 db. Town council President Bob Kirlin said that measurement would be taken from Van Buren Street, a block away from where the music was being played in the alley. The decibel limit was added, he said, because all five council members agreed that the St. Patrick's Day rally was excessively loud.

McCabe and his partners rejected the conditions and decided to cancel the May 4 rally. Over the past three years of rallies, featuring live, local music and Big Woods beer, more and more conditions have been placed upon Big Woods, McCabe explained at tonight's town council meeting. The decibel limit, he said, was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Some meeting attendees -- several of them local musicians -- feared that if decibel limits were placed on all outdoor events, that would inhbit Nashville from selling itself as a funloving, artistic destination.

Kirlin said he planned to look at each special event individually. Meeting attendees also saw that as a problem.

"The fairness issue is what I'm looking at," said Daniel Webb. "... You just said the Taste of Brown County is not going to be measured. That's not fair.

"... We need these," Webb said about events like the Rally in the Alley concert series, which packs hundreds of locals and visitors into a half-block of Mollys Lane four times a year. "... I think they're personally cool. ... We want money in this community, and we need events like this to help it grow," he said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Ten people spoke about enabling more events like the rallies. They ranged in age from young-30s county natives, musicians and music lovers, to a new Nashville resident who described her age as "25 times two and a little bit more."

"These people here are a lot younger than I am, and they're going to take over this town. ... These are the people who are going to keep this town going and be the future here,"  said Eleanor Piper, who moved to Nashville for its art background.

"... This is not Nashville 50 years ago," she said. "It isn't. It won't be. It'll never be again. ... Let's get people into this town. It's a wonderful place, and everybody should be working together."

No one opposed to outdoor music events in town spoke at this meeting, but some were in the audience.

Kirlin asked McCabe to go down the list of event conditions and state which ones Big Woods could and couldn't live with. The council, he said, could decide to place no restrictions on the event, having done some further research about sound pressure since the last meeting. But McCabe said he'd prefer to talk through the situation outside of a public forum -- or in any manner other than through a certified letter.

Any talking, though, won't happen before Saturday, when the Rally in the Alley had been scheduled after the Spring Blossom Parade. McCabe said Big Woods has decided instead to do a "tap takeover" at Chapman's in Bloomington that day, selling the beer out of county that it might have sold at the Nashville rally.

"I think, in the past, we have been trying to make everyone happy, which does not work," town councilman Arthur Omberg offered after the meeting. "I hope, going forward, we can have a set of guidelines for live music that would be fair and standard for these types of events so that everyone would know what to expect."

This story will be updated for the May 8 Brown County Democrat.

Read the story from the April 18 meeting by clicking here.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

See Full List »

Josephine Lee Cueto, 62, Morgantown
  Daughter of Priscilla Burgmeier of Nashville

Mary 'Jane' Kollman, 92, Nashville
  Mother of Janet (Tom) Gaskins of Nashville

Charlotte K. (Adkins) Wilson, 67, Franklin
  Former resident of Brown County

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