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Noise complaints flood Iowa City police after on-campus concert

BY MELISSA DAWKINS | SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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In light of concerns raised by Iowa City community members, University of Iowa and Iowa City officials intend to re-evaluate policies on noise.

Iowa City officials received 20 noise complaints about the UI’s Aug. 20 concert in which the White Panda performed in Hubbard Park, said Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton.

Bill Nelson, the director of IMU administration and the Center for Student Invovlemen & Leadership, said officials will discuss guidelines for outdoor events, concerts, public notification regarding these events, law enforcement, and communication between the university and city.

A Sept. 20 meeting will consist of UI and city officials, as well as representatives from the Iowa City and UI police departments, Nelson said.

“The events of White Panda and other [events] just again show the need to continue those conversations,” he said.

Judy Pfohl, who lives in the southwestern Iowa City — roughly three miles from campus — said the noise was quite audible, even at a distance.

“I live so far away, and for the music to be bothering us, it was louder than it usually is … I thought it was a neighbor’s party,” the longtime Iowa City resident said.

Pfohl called the city to find out the noise’s origin — she was told it was a university-sponsored event.

But Assistant City Manager Dale Helling said officials could not respond because the UI campus is not under the city’s jurisdiction.

“Our noise ordinance covers the city of Iowa City … there would be an exemption for any noise originating from a source on campus,” he said. “That’s the responsibility of the university.”

Pfohl was advised to contact UI police about the issue. When Pfohl contacted UI police, officials told Pfohl the university didn’t have a rule about noise level but instead a time period in which noise would be acceptable.

“The university is in the middle of the city. If they have separate ordinances for noise, it makes it more difficult for the security and for the people that live there,” Pfohl said. “If the city has noise ordinances that are supposed to be good for the population, they should be good enough for the university that has a population of younger ears that could be more damaged.”

UI spokesman Tom Moore said adjustments were made to reduce the volume following complaints about the White Panda concert before the Hawkpalooza concert Sept. 1. Those adjustments included noise level and stage position.

“We are committed, however, to trying to be good neighbors,” Moore said.

Though the UI doesn’t have a specific noise rule, there are guidelines in place, Nelson said.

Currently, amplified sound is allowed over the noon hour and after 4:30 p.m. anywhere on campus to avoid class disruption, Nelson said.

However, freshman Brianna Zumhof said she did not feel the noise was unreasonable.

“The noise level was fine,” she said. “I was in the front row.”


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