Lonnie Matz of Hillsboro was home on May 5 when he was surprised by loud music in his neighborhood. At first he thought it might be one of his neighbors, but when he went to check, he found it was from the Taborstock music festival on Tabor College’s campus.
When he called the police to complain about the noise, he was told the festival had a permit from the city so the police couldn’t do anything about it. That surprised Matz, because in previous years Hillsboro City Council had approved the permits, and he hadn’t heard anything about such action this year. He said the festival wasn’t as bothersome when he knew about it in advance, because he could plan to go elsewhere that day.
Matz hadn’t heard about the 2012 festival because Hillsboro’s noise ordinance allows for administrative permits that do not require council approval, City Administrator Larry Paine said Thursday. He said the council prefers to handle noise permit applications, but there was a lack of clarity on that point between the city and the college.
Paine said he was writing a letter to the college requesting that future noise permit applications be presented to the council.
Matz said the permit was an example of Tabor College receiving preferential treatment over private residents of the city.
“If I had made that racket, there would have been five cop cars at my house, and I would have been shut down in 10 minutes,” he said.
Mayor Delores Dalke rejected Matz’s claim that Tabor College receives preferential treatment but acknowledged that because of its size and local prominence, it does get the attention of the council.
“Based on the fact that Tabor is the largest employer in Marion County, of course we pay attention to Tabor College,” Dalke said.
Dalke also hailed the college’s enrollment growth over the past four years as a positive sign for the community.
Matz also questioned why Taborstock isn’t held at Joel Wiens Stadium to reduce the noise in neighborhoods adjacent to the college.
“Where they have it is for the most part not our call,” Paine said. “Timing is.”
The permit was valid from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., but Dalke wasn’t sure how late the music had gone.
“I couldn’t even hear it,” she said.
The city’s permit form specifies that the police officer on duty during the event is the final arbiter of whether the noise level is excessive.