In Northfield, ‘noise’ is the sound of money

One person’s noise is another person’s music and that fact has the politicians and police in Northfield a bit stuck on how residents and bars/restaurants can get along.

Northfield News reports on what happens when a city tries to define the limits on noise. On Tuesday, the City Council gave up — for now — on efforts to set an end time for music in the city amid some complaints from residents over noise.

The police chief proposed a 10 p.m. shutdown during the week and 11:30 on Friday and Saturday. That never came up for a vote yesterday.

Then the Council considered different shutdown times in different zones of the city. That lost out to science. What happens if noise — I mean, music — from one zone where it’s legal wafts over to a neighboring zone where it’s not. Whose music is it?

Currently city guidelines are based on decibel levels, but the police chief says it doesn’t work because the noise — music — never seems to rise to those levels when the complaints are lodged by residents.

A local bar owner proposed 12 a.m. and that proposal seemed to have legs but it also included the aforementioned zoning rules.

And then there’s another bit of reality. Music/noise is the sound of money in Northfield, a college town.

The discussion then went back to introducing later end times. Mayor Dana Graham and Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Todd Bornhauser, who spoke at the microphone during the public comment portion of the meeting, both mentioned data recently released by the University of Minnesota Extension office regarding taxable sales.

According to Graham, from 2011 to 2014, the eating and drinking category saw an increase of 18.9 percent in taxable sales in Northfield. That amount − $28 million − is 25.6 percent of total taxable retail sales in the area, he said.

“It’s hard for me to think about biting the hand that feeds us,” he said.

The Council didn’t. It sent the issue for city staff to figure out with an idea of taking another run at it next month.