ICON Lounge still suffering from noise ordinance issues back in March

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KSFY) - Despite getting into compliance back in March, the ICON Lounge said it's been tough financially because of the number of acts they had to cancel and pass on booking.

The event hall had two events booked on Thursday -- a cabaret and a concert -- but said it's just now been able to really start booking concerts again -- something that can often take months -- and summer is normally one of their busiest times.

"It's been a real challenge, financially, to keep ahead," said Stacy Newcomb-Weiland. "We had to cancel a lot of events, we had to not book a lot of events, so we're kind of in the heart of a really difficult moment. It's just a matter of trying to get creative, trying to make the most of a bad situation."

The chairs were lined up in the lounge Thursday for the Goodnight Theatre Collective's Pride: A Love Cabaret and the event hall was set for a concert by Trout Steak Revival. Newcomb-Weiland said they have events lined up all weekend for Sioux Falls Pride, but that hasn't always been the case the last few months. She said, they've had to get creative -- adding new menu items, offering theme nights and hosting different events and shows they haven't previously tried out.

"We've come up with a lot of new ideas as a result of this whole thing," Newcomb-Weiland said. "That's what we're trying to make the most of, like, 'OK, what can we do to enhance our programming?'"

Unfortunately ideas for what to do about the city's downtown noise ordinance have fallen flat. City Councilor Greg Neitzert said he'd been working to find cadence, but there's currently no symphony to everyone's ears.

"Even if we were to change the decibel level to allow it to be louder, it's not going to change the enforcement because the police are basically using what's called, 'the Plainly Audible Standard,'" Neitzert said.

The Sioux Falls Police do not carry decibel meters, it's a job the Health Department is in charge of. They also measure in 30 minute intervals and take an average -- something the police often don't have to do for noise complaints -- and would take a patrol car off the road for at least half an hour at a time if a violation were called in. The Health Department doesn't work at night.

The 'Plainly Audible Standard' refers to if you're in a nearby building and can hear the noise -- it's a violation.

"Plainly audible it is problematic downtown, but what do you replace it with? It's at the property line and that works great in the [sub]urbs, but downtown where you have two buildings right next to each other, you could be five feet away and if you hear it, it's plainly audible," Neitzert said.

Neitzert said he may wait to see if the ICON has any issues throughout the summer and in the meantime, slow the tempo on composing a new ordinance, but still thinks downtown maybe eventually need to change its key.

"It does seem like downtown needs something different, because the noise ordinance is written really well for other areas that aren't mixed use, neighborhoods that are all residential," Neitzert said. "But again the question is, what is the something?"

The ICON has not been in violation of the noise ordinance, nor received any complaints since installing new insulation in March, but said the amount of money poured into getting into compliance in addition to the loss of revenue from having to cancel and not book shows has been tough.

Neitzert said the Levitt Shell concert venue, which is directly across the street from the apartment building which was having issues with noise, should not be an issue when it opens next summer. He said the Levitt Foundation is working with the Health Department and builders to ensure that it will be easy for them to be in compliance with the noise ordinance and will have special permits for outdoor concerts.