Beaufort City Council votes against change in noise ordinance fo - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Beaufort City Council votes against change in noise ordinance for Beaufort Water Festival

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Restaurant and bar owners on Beaufort's waterfront are worried that they will take a serious financial hit during the Beaufort Water Festival that is set to blanket the town in 10 days.

Business owners tried to convince the city council to grant them wiggle room in the established noise ordinance, but after a vote, city council said no.

The noise ordinance restricts loud music or noise between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. seven days a week, and from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day except Friday and Saturday.

The owners wanted the city to grant them a waiver that would relax the rules during the water festival allowing them to play amplified music or have live entertainment later than 10 p.m. during the week in hopes that it would attract more people to stay and spend money.

Owners and workers left Tuesday night's council meeting very unhappy. They argued that restricting the time when they can play music or have bands during the festival will drive people away, thus affecting the money they can pull in.

"We have 10 days where, really, it is extra money that helps us build a cusion that we can put away for the really slow times of year," said Panini's on the Waterfront owner Paul Thompson.

Now, they can't make loud noise past 10 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Owners say that will drive the crowds somewhere else, like Hilton Head or Savannah.

"It will affect us significantly," said Thompson. "You are probably talking low five figures in revenue loss."

Although the council was sympathetic to the owners' request, there was one huge factor that made them all vote against it.

"The police chief said that his resources would be stretched thin," said Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling.

That was enough of a reason for the council. Complaints from homeowners downtown were also a huge factor, saying if you live in downtown Beaufort, you do not want to hear music until two in the morning.

"The question is always walking that line to figure out how to serve the betterment of the people," Keyserling said.

The council is hoping that this will not have as big of an impact as the owners are telling them.

"The restaurants can stay open," said Keyserling. "They can still serve alcohol. They can still play music inside."

The festival runs from July 18 to the 26 and the mayor said they will look at this issue again depending on how this year goes. In the meantime, the ordinance will stay as is and police will make sure to enforce it so that the amount of complaints stays low.

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