By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – What a local church considers joyful noise is hitting a sour note with nearby residents who say the amplified sound subjects them to unwanted noise and vibration in their homes.
Metro City Church, 17760 Fort St., a non-denominational Christian church, is renovating a former racquetball club and rehabilitation center, and has held events with amplified sound that residents on Cranbrook Street west of the church say disturbs their peace.
More than a dozen noise complaints have been filed, but responding officers have not observed actionable noise or vibration levels.
When noise complaints were filed in February, the Police Department had not yet identified a church representative to whom a violation could be issued.
On Super Bowl Sunday, from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 7, an event held inside the church generated three noise complaints from two households on Cranbrook.
Other noise complaints were filed May 15 during an outdoor event on the west side of the church property.
Ken Bussell of Carleton, a church elder, said an outdoor event from 6 to 10 p.m. on May 13 used amplified sound outside of the building. The event, for middle school-aged children, featured 3-on-3 basketball, a disc jockey dance party, bubble soccer, live music and other party activities.
Bussell said about 750 children attended, with at least 250 of them outside of the building.
There was a similar event on May 15 for ages 14 to 25.
Christopher Benedetti of Cranbrook Street filed a petition with the city on June 13, with signatures of 19 people living near the church on Crankbrook and Williamsburg. The petition cites the church’s violation of Riverview noise ordinance, section 22.274, and an obscuring wall requirement code 15.03 – 15.07.
Benedetti said he spoke about the noise issue at the June 6 City Council meeting, and he announced the filed petition at the June 20 meeting.
Bussell said that in the past, sound traveled through the air duct work in the auditorium to the furnace, then outside the building, with the furnace transmitting the bass sound outward into the surrounding area.
Since then a box, with soundproofing insulation, has been built around the duct work, so sound waves cannot leave the auditorium and follow the path of the air exchange, Bussell said.
“We spent over $150,000 in sound-proofing in this building,” Bussell said. “Extra stuff we didn’t have to do, but we knew we needed to do.”
He said the auditorium wall is 8 inches thick, with cellulose insulation, and double five-eighths-inch drywall. The exterior building walls are concrete.
Bussell said a sound engineer took decibel measurement on June 22, including readings from outside on the roof, and west of the building, including near the furnace. The sound engineer will provide the church with additional noise buffering recommendations.
“It is our expressed goal to be good neighbors, and to be thought of highly in the neighborhood,” Bussell said. “We are trying to do the best we can on that.”
Joan Benedetti of Cranbrook Street, said the noise is anxiety-provoking, and has prevented her from focusing on her online classes.
Florian Nowicki, who also lives on Cranbrook, said the noise from the church occurs at random times, and is initiated from inside the building.
Nowicki said the church has bass drums and guitars that are amplified with speakers that were designed for a football stadium and are now being used in a much smaller building with a metal roof.
He said he feels the sound waves in his home.
“It would go on for hours,” Nowicki said. “Then it would go up and down to different levels. It is not like you heard any music. All you heard was ‘boomba-boomba-boomba.’”
Nowicki spoke to Bussell, and he spoke to the City Council.
“I was fed up with it,” Nowicki said. “I feel that the City Council hasn’t been watching out for the people, the residents. They don’t have to live next to it, but I have to endure it.”
Christopher Benedetti said the noise sounds like a magnified boom box. He gathered 19 signatures on a petition before submitting it to the city.
He said he filed another noise complaint at 3 p.m. June 22.
“(The church) moved into the neighborhood, (the city) never told us anything,” he said. “I didn’t even know what was going on. I called the Building Department – nothing. Didn’t get any return calls.”
He said the noise on Super Bowl Sunday was “horrendous,” and the May 13 outdoor event was “horrible.” He said the event continued throughout the weekend, and he learned, through a Freedom of Information Act request, that 13 police reports were filed that weekend.
“It is kind of like a sound torture,” Joan Benedetti said. “It goes ‘boom, boom boom boom,’ and you are left with that in your head all night long.”
A tentative meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 27 at city hall with City Manager Douglas Drysdale, Police Chief Clifford Rosebohm, area residents and church representatives to address issues.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])