Bars defend themselves against noise level complaint Old Town pubs file lawsuit against city
Bonn · People were out celebrating football and life itself after the lockdown, things may have gotten a little boisterous in the Old Town. But who knew the city had received a complaint from a resident about noise levels and that the city was measuring for noise pollution.
The mood on Breite Strasse in the Altstadt (Old Town) of Bonn was boisterous on the first Bundesliga weekend after last year's lockdown. At the pubs and bars, people sat outside celebrating the goals and perhaps even life. What they didn't know was that the city had noise measurements taken in their immediate vicinity that day.
A resident had filed a complaint with the Cologne Administrative Court about the long opening hours on the outdoor terraces in three restaurants on the corner of Breite Strasse and Dorotheenstrasse. The city then commissioned noise level measurements and found "massive transgressions of the permissible guide values" (during the day, 60 decibels are permitted in front of apartment windows, at night 40 decibels), as Markus Schmitz from the press office confirmed to the GA upon inquiry. The noise violations were only found at two of the three restaurants. The consequence: The city decreed that these two restaurants may no longer operate their outdoor restaurants on the parking lots in front of their entrances until midnight, but only until 10 pm.
But the judicial process has not yet come to an end. For their part, the two restaurateurs have filed a lawsuit against the city to the Administrative Court because of the imposed restriction on opening hours, according to the Cologne Administrative Court. Although the urgent proceedings have been pending for several months, the court has not yet reached a decision on the matter. As court spokeswoman Leonie Galler explains, the chamber processes the proceedings in the order in which they are received. But she said that it would certainly take into account that the issue of operating hours for outdoor restaurants will become more urgent in the foreseeable future due to seasonal factors. Until a verdict is reached, the two establishments are allowed to open outdoors until midnight, which at this time of year will not amount to a lot of revenue.
One of the proprietors is Tim Baumhauer, who has been running the "Steinbeck" on Breite Strasse for five years. "The resident complaint in the middle of the lockdown came as quite a surprise to us," he says. As a restaurateur, he says, it's important for him to get along well with the neighbors. A doorman makes sure that customers don't get too loud, he says. "But not everything can be controlled, for example the cheering of goals at a soccer match." In the cold months, the outdoor tables hardly contribute to sales, Baumhauer says. In the warm months, on the other hand, "we live off outdoor dining.”
A two-hour reduction in opening hours is a competitive disadvantage, he says, not least because many guests may not even come to his bar in the first place, knowing full well that others are serving outdoors for longer. Last but not least, the Old Town is a nightlife district that is also characterized by pubs, cafés and restaurants. Especially on weekends, there is a lot of hustle and bustle, which is not only caused by visitors to the restaurants, but also by groups that simply wander through the streets.
Thomas Strack, who is representing the residents in the lawsuit, knows the changes in the Old Town from his own experience. His law firm is located in the middle of the Old Town. "For a while, many guest workers lived here, then came the students. Today, many families also live here," says Strack. The family he represents has children. The bedrooms and living rooms face the street. Especially in summer, when the windows are open, the noise is considerable and has increased after the city initially provided the restaurateurs with one parking space for outdoor dining and now allows two parking spaces.
"It is a question of balancing the interests of the residents and the restaurateurs," says Strack, who at the same time reminds everyone of the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. nighttime rest period that applies throughout North Rhine-Westphalia and is stipulated by the State Noise Pollution Control law. It has been proven that the measurements have shown that the noise limit values have been considerably exceeded. In this context, he emphasizes that the complaint only refers to the outdoor gastronomy and not to the indoor areas.
Orig. text: Philip Königs