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Larsa likely to keep permit despite neighbor complaints
Larsa Banquet Hall has been the subject of contention for some time as noises emanating from events held at the facility have caused neighbors to file complaints. - photo by Journal file photo

Larsa Banquet Hall is three substantiated noise complaints away from having their Conditional Use Permit revoked pending an upcoming hearing at the Stanislaus County Planning Commission in October.

Noise has been an ongoing issue at the Monte Vista Avenue property that sits between N. Quincy Road and Amethyst Way and has been the subject of more than 40 noise complaints since 2009. According to nearby neighbors the weekend events held at the banquet hall often include music with “bass that shakes the window panes” which demonstrate that the facility is not adhering to the Stanislaus County noise ordinance that requires noise to not be felt over 200 feet away. However, only one of the neighbors’ complaints that have been filed since April — when the banquet hall was granted an extension for the county to monitor the effectiveness of Larsa’s sound-reducing measures to avoid revocation of their permit — has been substantiated by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said Miguel Galvez of the Planning Commission.

According to Larsa representative Kurk Royel the complaints being made are not reflective of the entire neighboring communities’ concerns.

 “Of the 26 houses on that street only three are making complaints and they are bogus calls,” said Royel.

The ongoing disagreement between the neighboring community and the Larsa Banquet Hall was precipitated by a November meeting at the Stanislaus County Planning Commission to evaluate Larsa’s permit after excessive noise complaints were filed and Larsa was found to have three non-permitted storage structures on site as well as non-permitted building improvements.  Larsa and the Mar, Addai Church, which meets at the location, were given six month to be in compliance with the county’s conditions of approval and to show “good faith efforts towards resolving the church’s impacts on the neighborhood.”

Subsequently between November and April three substantiated complaints were documented on the dates of Nov.23, Jan. 26, and Feb. 8, prompting the Larsa Banquet Hall’s attorney Brett Dickerson to provide the County with a summary of steps taken to address the noise emanating from the hall including a noise assessment that was conducted on Feb. 28. According to Dickerson, the assessment showed that the noise or “beat” noises did not exceed the allowed decibel levels and a majority of the high-decibel noise during the time that an event is taking place stems from ambient sources, including neighborhood noise, traffic on E. Monte Vista Avenue and train horns.

Larsa did eventually opt to implement precautionary measures as recommended by a noise assessment conducted by acoustics consultant group J.C. Brennan & Associates. Larsa installed a noise monitoring system to measure the decibel levels while music is playing, specifically targeting low frequency sounds. The system not only measures the levels to ensure that the music is under compliance with the county’s noise ordinance, but also features an alert light that indicates when the music has become too loud.

With the system in place and lowered bass levels, Dickerson reported that a test confirmed music was not audible beyond 200 feet. Added measures also included filling the area beneath the stage and adjacent walls with loose insulation material to further dampen reverberations.

While Larsa’s steps to mitigate noise concerns proved within compliance of the county’s noise ordinance, county staff reported receiving an email from an Amethyst Way neighbor who was concerned that the recent trial period occurred during the hall’s slow time and, as such, is “not an accurate reflection” of the number of events that occur on the church property during summer months.

Taking these concerns into account, the Stanislaus County Planning Commission voted in April to continue monitoring the noise levels at Larsa Event Center for an additional six months to better determine whether the new noise monitoring system and improvements made within the facility will result in a satisfactory difference in noise levels for nearby residents during the event center’s months with heightened activity. Thus far, only one complaint has been substantiated by the sheriff’s department meaning that Larsa would need to receive three additional substantiated complaints in the next two months for the county to consider revoking its license.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission will meet in October to address the results of monitoring the Larsa Banquet Hall.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.