The Social in Shawnee can have live music for now but must keep working on noise issue

The Social's owners say they've done pretty much everything they can to tamp down noise from live music on Friday and Saturday night. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

The owners of the Social Bar and Grill in Shawnee will get another four months to find new ways to reduce the noise from live performances on Fridays and Saturdays, the City Council has decided.

Councilmembers voted unanimously Monday to let the owners of the bar at 13410 West 62nd Terrace work with city staff in hopes that some nearby neighbors would be satisfied.

History of noise at property: The sound issue is sensitive in the neighborhood because the former occupant of that address – The Roxy – received numerous noise complaints in its four-year run. The Roxy closed about a year ago.

  • Some 60 complaints were filed against the Roxy, but complaints have been far rarer for The Social. Police noted two since January.
  • Planning commissioners who considered the question three weeks ago received emails saying neighbors could hear lyrics inside their homes, and that noise volumes sometimes made windows rattle.

Social’s response: The Social’s owners say they’ve done everything possible to mollify neighbors.

  • They’re stopping performances at 11 p.m. rather than midnight, installing sound dampening barriers on their property and limiting how often doors are opened to take out garbage.

Co-owner Jason Grove noted that he’s only heard a couple of complaints after seven or eight live performances. He added that none of the neighbors complaining have provided video or audio evidence of the noisy nights.

  • He said one complaint of noise came during a windy, rainy downpour in which it would have been difficult for sound to carry.

No neighbors spoke at the meeting Monday.

Noise readings: The property manager for the Social also recently hired a sound engineer to get readings from the back of the business, Grove said, and the majority were similar to cars passing by or a dishwasher.

  • “We just don’t know what else we can do without hearing more from them because they only write on pieces of paper and they don’t really show us videos of their windows rattling,” he said. “All of us have phones nowadays that can record that type of thing in an instant so I would think that if they wanted to do that they could.”

Council’s options: Councilmembers on Monday could have chosen to revoke the Social’s special use permit, limit their operations or send the matter back to the planning commission, which declined to take action against the establishment at its most recent meeting.

Instead, they allowed extra time in hopes that a compromise can be found.

Discussion: Councilmember Tammy Thomas said she has attended live shows at the Social and has not found the volume level to be loud outside.

  • “I don’t want to hog-tie this guy from making money,” she said, noting that reducing hours could be impractical for the business. “I think we work with them.”

Councilmember Eric Jenkins said he was torn between encouraging a cooperative business owner and supporting the neighbors. He said some of the neighbors’ complaints of hearing lyrics were alarming.

  • “I don’t think our citizens are just liars,” Jenkins said. “I think the owner of the establishment is trying to do what he can to mitigate the issue.”

Jenkins said he’d like to see more efforts to lower the overall volume within the building, “so we can have a win-win here.”

One other possibility mentioned was a sound barrier on air conditioning units, if it is found that sound is escaping from there.

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at roxieham@gmail.com