City Council Tweaks Ordinances To Better Enforce Noise And Glass Violations

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Athens City Council has introduced some minor tweaks to city legislation to provide better enforcement of noise and glass container violations during large events in the city, such as the annual Halloween block party.

Every year, Council passes a series of ordinances in anticipation of the Halloween block party, which attracts thousands of costumed visitors to downtown Athens. Included in the annual ordinances are the closing of Court Street to vehicular traffic, establishing a glass-free zone and suspending the city’s noise ordinance to allow music in the downtown area.

On Tuesday, Council introduced an ordinance that only suspends the city’s noise ordinance for noise coming from permitted sound stages on Court Street. In the past, the ordinance has suspended the noise ordinance for sound in the downtown area.

According to Athens Service-Safety Director Paula Horan Moseley, the vagueness of the ordinance in prior years made it hard to enforce noise violations on streets adjacent to the downtown area, such as Washington and State Streets. She said the new ordinance will allow music on the two stages on Court Street during Halloween, but still makes excessive noise coming from house parties near the downtown area unlawful.

Legislation was also introduced Tuesday evening to establish a fine for violations of a glass-free zone, which is now a minor misdemeanor. Horan Moseley said glass-free zones are established during large events in the city as a public health and safety measure. Currently, Council approves the establishment of such zones, but the new legislation would also give the service-safety director authority to create glass-free zones on city property (including sidewalks) as deemed necessary.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl pointed out that a police horse was injured by glass at the unsanctioned student festival Palmerfest on Palmer Street a few years ago. This ordinance would allow the service-safety director to establish glass-free zones during such unsanctioned multi-house parties.

The annual Halloween block party will be held on Oct. 26. The Athens Uptown Business Association trick-or-treat on Court Street will be held Oct. 28 and citywide trick-or-treat in Athens will be held on Oct. 31.