Round Rock considers noise ordinance


Round Rock's bustling downtown nightlife scene got a boost and then word of a possible bust in December.

The city gave final approval to an ordinance extending from midnight until 2 a.m. the hours that bars, restaurants and hotels can serve alcohol. However, concerns over the noise from a growing number of live music venues may spur the city to implement noise restrictions.

Greg Kirwin, who has lived in a neighborhood about half a mile away from Main Street for more than two decades, told the city council that he and his neighbors don't want Round Rock's Main Street to become another Sixth Street.

Despite expanding hours for alcohol sales, the city council is considering limiting noise to just 50 decibels, measured at the property line, beginning at 10 p.m. on weeknights. The 50 decibel limit would take effect at midnight on weekends. The ordinance would reduce the daytime noise limit to 75 decibels, from the current 80 decibel limit. 

According to a study from Purdue University, 50 decibels is equivalent to the sound of a quiet conversation at home. The city's current 80 decibel daytime limit is roughly equivalent to the sound level of a food blender or garbage disposal.

The city is also considering requiring a permit for businesses to play amplified music outdoors. A number of the downtown venues have outdoor seating, which would be impacted by such a change.