Buffa's, Sidney Torres continue "compromise" in noise debate


The Honeypots perform at Buffa's. - DEREK BRIDGES/FLICKR
  • The Honeypots perform at Buffa's.

Following a 60-day compromise between Buffa's Bar & Restaurant owners and neighbor Sidney Torres IV, the parties met back at Orleans Parish Civil District Court this morning — and agreed to another 30-day compromise.

"We talked in the chambers ... and tried to work something out temporarily," Civil District Court Judge Paulette Irons told the courtroom. The agreement continues this summer's consent judgment, which followed Torres' lawsuit against the bar for alleged sound violations, and against the city, for allegedly improperly issuing Buffa's a live music permit in 2012. The agreement continues limited performance hours and ensures soundproofing is in place. Additionally, two sound measurements will be taken — one announced, another random — and measurements also will be taken at the exterior and interior of Torres' property.

In September, Buffa's owner Chuck Rogers hired Oxford Acoustic sound expert David Woolworth (who drafted recommendations to the city for its still-pending sound ordinance, which has since gone back to the drawing board). According to a statement from Buffa's, Woolworth's measurements at the bar "did not exceed the sound level limits" of the city's noise ordinance. In a statement, Woolworth said, "The Rogers family is using a combination of sound level limiting inside the venue and properly designed soundproofing together to reduce their sonic footprint. ... This is a responsible approach to business operations that considers the neighbors, patrons and musicians."

While the parties had agreed to the 60-day compromise, the owners had no choice other than to agree to the latest without stopping music at the bar. As part of this agreement, Torres agreed to put up a $7,000 bond that, if Buffa's is found to not be in violation of the city's noise ordinance, will be paid to Buffa's. Rogers says he will give 30 percent of that to the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO) to distribute among musicians who lost income due to the schedule shuffling at the bar.

According to Rogers, the bar lost nearly $14,000 during the 60-day compromise, and Rogers has spent more than $20,000 on legal fees and soundproofing, which includes sound dampening curtains and a "yacker tracker" device that shows musicians and bartenders how loud they are (with green, yellow and red alert lights). The bar started a crowdfunding campaign to pay for losses, and additional money raised will also benefit MACCNO.

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