Council reviewing noise ordinance


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Due to its growth, Lockhart has experienced an increase in events, particularly live music venues, in its downtown area, which has had its parameters come into question lately. The city, therefore, is revisiting its ordinance on decibel level maximums.

“We’ve had some new live music venues,” City Planning Director David Fowler said. “We’ve had some events held away from downtown. This doesn’t surprise me.”

Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez presided over the June 4 meeting of the Lockhart City Council while Mayor Lew White was on vacation.

In May, the city allowed 4H Hat Co. to host live music venues at its East Pecan Street location, albeit it with time restraints and only during First Friday events and the third Sunday of each month. The East Pecan Street location is just out of the nine-block downtown area.

“After Covid restrictions let up, there’s more interest in people getting outside,” Fowler said. “Our downtown is really successful. We have a higher attraction for holding events. A lot of people want to share the city with others in the region. With this increase in events, it’s led to some complaints regarding noise, and there’ve been some issues with parking.”

Currently, Lockhart allows commercial abutting to residential 50 decibels at night and 55 during the day; 65 decibels for commercial business abutting to commercial businesses; and 70 decibels for industrial abutting industrial.

City Attorney Brad Bullock informed Council that his decibel readings were 70 while members of the Council were talking into their microphones.

Fowler presented ordinances from several area cities. San Marcos and Hutto had the highest maximum decibel level at 85, with Round Rock the lowest, followed by Buda and Georgetown.

The City of Lockhart has nine defined events where it is legal to consume alcohol in public — Cinco de Mayo, Chisholm Trail Roundup, Dies y Seis, First Friday, Courthouse Nights, Sip-n-Stroll, the barbecue festival, Running of the Bulls, or a City-issued SUP (Special Use Permit).

Lockhart Police Chief Gary Williamson said once a complaint is called into his department, the LPD goes to the site and investigates.

Recently, the LPD got a decibel level reader to investigate noise complaints.

The City Council and City Staff are reviewing recommended new noise levels for Special Use Permits.

Currently, the maximum decibel level is 65 in Lockhart for commercial businesses abutting commercial businesses, and 55 for commercial businesses abutting residential businesses. Citations have been handed out during events, but most have been for people blocking driveways or being too close to an intersection.

Fowler noted the Special Use Permits may include loudspeakers and amplifiers, parking permits, solid waste collection and disposal, and usually require closing a street. Such a permit requires the person in possession of the permit to give a notice of 30-90 days. He added that many cities require insurance or deposits.

“Sometimes there are concerns about the consumption of alcohol and some other public safety concerns,” Fowler said. “We’re trying to maybe get a handle on what’s going on with some of these events and how best to regulate them.”

Williamson said his department’s main purpose is to get compliance and address the issue.

Bullock noted “what constitutes an unreasonable noise comes down to a question for the judge and jury.”

Councilmember John Lairsen said whatever decibel level were agreed upon, “We just need to make sure it works for the public and for the well-being of our community.”

In other business:

Five bids were received for the Downtown Revitalization Project, ranging from $10.8 millions to $12.8 millions. The probable cost, according to he City Engineer, is $9.6 million. TRC Engineers is checking references of the apparent low bidder and checking areas where savings can be achieved. This project award is scheduled for Council consideration in June.

A petition to amend the City Charter by Ground Game Texas and Mano Aiga, regional criminal justice reform advocacy groups, was submitted two weeks ago to “reform marijuana enforcement by City personnel.” The petition is being reviewed by the City Attorney’s office. City Manager Steve Lewis told Council he would update as things progress.

The Lockhart Summer Teen Center has opened at PRIDE High School (500 N. Pecos Street) for ages 13-18/ The teen Center is a free recreation program was created in partnership with Lockhart ISD and the City to give teenagers a place to go, in order to stay active and socialize.

The Lockhart City Pool and the City Park Splash Pad will close from June 10-16 due to the events of the Chisholm Trail Roundup. Those facilities will reopen on June 18. However, the Maple Street Splash Pad will remain open.


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