By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver is it looking at revising its noise ordinances following a dispute between a bar owner and the tenants living above it.

“It’s pretty unreasonable in the sense that every time someone sings a song in karaoke, I know exactly what song it is every Tuesday. So if that doesn’t set the bar I don’t know what does,” said Shane McCauley.

(credit: CBS)

McCauley moved into the Emery West Highlands apartments at the beginning of November, a mixed-use development. Had he known the space below him would be a bar, he never would’ve signed a lease.

The problem? The bar’s owner didn’t know what he was going to do with the space until after it was built.

(credit: CBS)

“Could I maybe have done some things at the beginning? Yeah, but it was not known that it was going to be a bar and providing live music,” said Eugene Lucero, owner of The Bar at Plaza 38.

Since he opened, the tenant complaints have been pouring in. Lucero has even dealt with the police on several occasions and while he legally doesn’t have to change anything, he is willing to try. He hired engineering firm, D.L. Adams to make recommendations for sound proofing.

“There is a solution. I’m working on the solution. Through the report that I have from D.L. Adams, they say ‘wrap the pipes.’ I’m wrapping the pipes. They say ‘install a ceiling system,’ well, I’m installing a ceiling system. I’m putting in installation. We will measure it afterward and see how successful it was,” said Lucero.

(credit: CBS)

As it stands, Denver’s noise ordinance was created so people wouldn’t disturb their neighbors across property lines. The Department of Public Health and Environment says it doesn’t have authority in this case because the bar and the apartments have the same address. The city said there is no language currently specific to mixed use.

McCauley says he, along with others have called the police to no avail.

“I’ve reached out to the bar owner, all the different city agencies like HUD, neighborhood inspections, permitting, Department of Health and Safety, DPD. I’ve reached out to everybody to see where I can go with this in order to be able to at least help limit the noise,” McCauley continued. “I’ve gotten nowhere. We’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s a lose-lose situation where the city seems to have its hands tied right now and property management has been kind of sitting on their laurels.”

(credit: CBS)

To date, Lucero has made upwards of $15,000 of improvements to the sound proof, but said he is still receiving complaints. He says there are a secondary, more expensive, set of recommended changes he is willing to make if a sound test, set for Friday, doesn’t show improvements.

“Whatever it takes. I still need to make this place viable. It seems that live music is the key to be able to attract this,” said Lucero.

More than anything, McCauley is baffled there aren’t protections in place for noise in mixed-used developments.

“We’re in a mix-used building, and I would think that while there is a bar underneath me, that the bar would be constructed in such a way or that there would be regulation in such a way it doesn’t necessarily have to cross property lines,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

Denver police says Lucero appears to be making a good faith effort to find a solution. DPD says it’s working with the city attorney to see if there’s more that can be done.

Denver Public Health and Environment says it plans to look at revising the noise ordinance for mixed use.

McCauley says he is tired of waiting to see what happens. He plans to take what he sees as a grey area in the law and present it to city council.

“Just to be able try and effect the change that’s happening here or at least make them more aware, or make it more public, that this is a problem. Because if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere in Denver so it should absolutely be well-known,” said McCauley.

Jamie Leary

Comments (3)
  1. gwphillips says:

    Doesn’t Shane’s apartment lease provide him with “Quiet Enjoyment” of his apartment?

  2. JLW says:

    Shane McCauley should spend $15 on earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, instead of the bar owner being forced to spend $15,000 on extra constructions to try to someone who’s going to continue complaining anyway. It’s city living–mixed-use zoning improves density, and it increases the amount of amenities that city-dwellers can access within easy walking distance. If Shane is so sensitive to noise, he should have known to look for a quieter neighborhood.

  3. James says:

    Is there still an editor on payroll? Grammar not good.

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