WILLMAR -- A solution will be sought to complaints by neighbors about disruptive weekend noise coming from the Double D Club on Willmar's east side.
Doug Reese, chairman of the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee, suggested Police Chief Jim Kulset and Double D Club owner Duane Duenow of Arlington discuss noise concerns raised by neighbors during the committee's meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The noise issue was referred to the committee by Mayor Les Heitke after neighbors Tom Schriener and Jessica Buer first brought their complaints to the City Council last week. Jim Dokken, who represents the Fourth Ward where the club is located, encouraged the city to do something. He said Schriener and Buer were not the only residents troubled by the problem.
Buer, whose family lives right behind the club, told the council she has called the Police Department numerous times.
She said the noise happens almost every Friday or Saturday night, awakens her children in the middle of the night and never starts until 11 p.m. or midnight.
She described it as "more than just annoying.''
During the committee meeting, Buer said she never had a problem when the club was formerly called Vannandy's. "I think the noise is correctable,'' she said. "There is no reason why it wakes up my kids.''
Duenow did not attend the committee meeting, but the club was represented by manager Heather Dokken and employee Tabitha Chilton. Heather Dokken said Duenow deals with the police over noise complaints. She said she is not present at the club at all times. She said she tells the DJ to turn down the sound. Many times she said she can't tell how loud it is.
"We don't want to upset anyone,'' said Dokken. She said the back door may need a sound barrier. "We do want to fix the noise. We want to take action to take care of it.''
Kulset said he talked to Duenow in the past about options such as closing the back door, redoing the insulation and lowering the sound.
Reese, who also represents the Fourth Ward, said he has not heard the noise. He said he's heard music, but didn't know where it came.
Kulset said Double D's problem began shortly after the club opened in the summer of 2007. Kulset said his department received 52 calls on 40 different nights from Sept. 1, 2007, to the present. By comparison, the department received six calls pertaining to noise complaints about Vannandy's from Jan. 1 of 2005, until the club lost its liquor license in May 2007.
Kulset said the department had been using the noisy gatherings ordinance, which went into effect in 1981, in response to noise complaints. Under that ordinance, officers are required to issue a warning. If the music was turned down and officers did not return within a four-hour period, then no citation was issued.
"Normally we go over there and tell them to turn it down, and they turn it down. Once in a while we'd get called back and they'd get ticketed. Hence the five tickets for the noisy gatherings ordinance they received since they were opened,'' he said.
After the noise problem was discussed at a Fourth Ward Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving meeting, Kulset said other ways to tighten down enforcement were discussed. The council in March modified the noisy gatherings ordinance to require only one warning in a 30-day period. If officers returned, a ticket was issued.
Another option Kulset discussed with City Attorney Rich Ronning was the electronic noise ordinance, which was enacted in 1997 and doesn't require a warning. The ordinance is used to control noisy vehicles, but Kulset said Ronning advised that the ordinance could be used for violations at structures and buildings.
In June, officers tagged two people under that ordinance. In the most recent complaint on July 3, however, officers issued a warning when a ticket should have been issued, but "we turned down the music.''
The penalty under either ordinance is a petty misdemeanor with a maximum fine up to $300. According to Ronning, the fine amount is set by the court.