The Garden City Telegram
12/14/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Noisy flap

Past zoning decision puts commission in tough spot.

The fun at an events center in Finney County has gone too far for some nearby residents.

More than 30 people attended a recent Finney County Commission meeting to complain about noise and traffic coming from Alegria Express northeast of Garden City on Jennie Barker Road.

Concerns ranged from noise disrupting people's sleep to traffic and possible drunken drivers.

The business facility that caters to wedding receptions, dances and the like came about after the county commission in 2011 rezoned the property from agricultural to general commercial — even though the county's planning commission had denied the zoning change.

The owner's plan called for renting the building for events drawing as many as several hundred people.

A cereal malt beverage license was issued. And now, disgruntled residents in the vicinity consider Alegria Express more of a night club than what was intended.

Combine a sizable events center and the license to serve alcohol, and big parties that go late into the night were to be expected. At issue is what, if any, policies have been violated regarding noise and other possible nuisances.

Local law enforcement officers have investigated, but feel limited in what they may do because the business received the green light for parties when the zoning change was approved.

Code compliance officers also are digging into the matter to determine if the business is operating according to what's allowed in a general commercial district.

People often move to the country in search of a more tranquil environment. Some also prefer the relative lack of restrictive ordinances as compared to city life — although the residents in this situation may wish the county had an ordinance restricting noise, as in the city.

When it dismissed the planning commission's recommendation and made the business-friendly decision to allow the events center, the county commission in place should have anticipated such fallout.

Moving forward — and depending on what code compliance officers find — the current commission may end up in a tough place in trying to find the best way to protect the interests of nearby residents, and those of a local business owner.