From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 14th April 2011
Although noisy establishments in the Long Street precinct annoy residents, property developer Geoff Madsen believes a balance is achievable. Mr Madsen is one of the developers of FlatRock situated on the corners of Loop and Buiten streets. The building now consists of apartments as well as hotel suites which make up the 45 units in the building. He raised concerns about the Chez Ntemba nightclub which he said had no sound-proofing and continued to bother residents and hotel guests in FlatRock.
When the club first opened, Mr Madsen approached the owners and informed them of the noise and he said they agreed to turn the volume down. “We started to see a general degradation of the area. People would leave the club in the early hours of the morning and were drunk and fighting. “We approached the City about the issue as we could we see that the club’s roof was made of corrugated iron which meant there was no sound-proofing. “We now find that hotel guests are checking out in the early hours of the morning due to excessive noise,” Mr Madsen said.
He said residents had been in a four-year battle with the club trying to get them to comply with the law. Mr Madsen said an official from the City’s health department followed up the complaints and did decibel readings. However, Mr Madsen said they weren’t accurate as the club managers were aware they were being monitored. “The official stood across the road and gave the signal for the DJ to start playing the music, I told him the reading was unfair as the managers were aware of what was taking place. “I told him to come back when they didn’t know he was there to get a proper idea of the sound. Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to experience the noise, however, on Saturday April 9 at 11pm, there was no music playing as people had not yet arrived. “If every night was like this then I would be the happiest guy in the world, but at about 2am you will start to see the roof shaking,” he said. Mr Madsen said residents in the city centre often supported surrounding establishments and they were not in the business of closing noisy establishments. “We want them to be willing to talk about the issues and to abide by the law. “Right now they have a complete disregard for the charm of Long Street and don’t add any value to the precinct,” he said.
Andrew Rissik, chairman of the body corporate and a shareholder in FlatRock suites said he has had enough of noisy clubs who don’t comply with the City’s by-laws. He said property owners paid exorbitant rates for buildings in the precinct, which then lose their value as residents opt to sell because they cannot sleep. He said they have spent about R30 000 on double glazing some of the apartments windows but it has done little to drown out the bass emanating from the club. “We have no problem with nightclubs in the area. They are part of the charm of the precinct. Our problem is with the club owners who don’t abide by the law and the lack of action by the City. “Nowhere in the civilised world would you see a club without sound-proofing playing loud music until 4.30am,” he said.
The CapeTowner approached Chez Ntemba and spoke to the manager who refused to be named. She said the noise had not come from the club as it was soundproofed. The noise, she said, came from the surrounding clubs which played music on their balconies. “The club has been soundproofed since 2008. “Prior to that the residents took us to court and we had to sound-proof it. We have even closed the top floor because the roof rattles,” she said. When the CapeTowner asked to see their Health and Entertainment licence, the manager said she did not know where to find it but said the club had received one after being sound-proofed. She referred the CapeTowner to the club’s lawyer and said she could no longer comment on the matter. The CapeTowner called the law firm Chrisfick and Associates but was informed that they no longer represented the club. The club’s general manager, Tony Muller, refused to answer any questions.
City Director of Health, Dr Ivan Bromfield said according to their records there is an application from Chez Ntemba for a Health and Entertainment Licence, however, it has not been issued as there are still outstanding requirements relating to the submission of plans for the ventilation systems. Dr Bromfield said complaints were first received in October 2007. and when they were investigated it was found that the noise was causing a disturbance. “The club was fined R1 000 on October 7, 2007 (for causing a noise disturbance). “Thereafter the owner was summoned to court in February 2008 without the option of an admission of guilt fine. “On August 21, 2008 the court closed the premises until Friday August 27, 2010 for compliance with the requirements as it related to the emission of noise. When asked if club owners were informed when noise readings were conducted Dr Bromfield said: “ Normally, alleged offenders are not notified of the City’s intentions to do noise surveys for purposes of prosecution. In the case of a Noise Impact Assessment evaluation, however, the building structure is checked against maximum output of the amplifiers – it would then be normal to involve the owner or DJ.”
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