City of Tempe sides with Shady Park amid legal battle with retirement home over noise

The city of Tempe has taken a side in the legal battle between a popular Mill Avenue music venue and a retirement home across the street.

The Tempe City Council released a letter addressed to city residents on Thursday in support of Shady Park, saying a judge's ruling would "cost many employees their jobs, and rob the City of Tempe of an economic and cultural asset."

A judge had ruled on April 13 in favor of Mirabella at ASU, a retirement home that sued the venue due to complaints of excessive noise.

Under the ruling, music can still play, but they will have to wrap up by 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. In addition, music volume will have to be lowered. Typically, concerts happen on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., and until 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.

In the council's letter, officials said that the ruling would have a "chilling effect" on live music in the city. 

"The judge’s ruling casts into doubt Tempe’s ability to thoughtfully regulate and promote live music throughout the city," the letter read. "Furthermore, we are concerned about the precedent of substituting a judge’s opinion on a matter of local concern, instead of allowing elected officials to determine the best policies for our community as a whole."

City officials added that that while they believe residents have the right to a peaceful environment and a good night's sleep, they also wanted live music venues to coexist with them.

Shady Park representatives have said that the city of Tempe has not issued a single noise citation to the Mill Avenue venue.

The venue plans to appeal the ruling, arguing that the restrictions make it "impossible" to hold live shows and it would eventually be forced to close their doors. 

Mirabella responds

According to a statement from Mirabella at ASU's executive director Tom Dorough, the retirement home has never attempted to shut the venue down, and the litigation would still allow Shady Park to hold shows seven days a week.

"Judge Astrowsky’s ruling is not about live music in Tempe; it’s about the specific public and private nuisance caused by Shady Park’s excessive noise," he wrote.

Dorough cited complaints of noise from hotel management in the area, along with students who reportedly "can’t ‘think, study, and work’ during Shady Park concerts."

"After careful consideration of more than 20 witnesses and more than 100 exhibits, the Court simply ordered Shady Park to make reasonable changes to the way they operate their outdoor concerts," Dorough wrote. "Rather than comply with these changes, Shady Park has voluntarily chosen to cancel its concerts."

In response to the Tempe City Council's letter, the executive director argued that the music venue is surrounded by apartments and hotels because of the city's desire to grow the downtown area.

"Downtown residents are entitled to the same protection from excessive noise that any other Tempe citizen is," he wrote.

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