Editorial: Businesses make noise

The new Oak Harbor City Council members taking over in January would be wise not to further limit business operations due to noise concerns.

The noise issue has been dragging on for months. It apparently started with a telephone complaint, although it was never clear exactly who was complaining, which is one problem with “government by phone call.” The correct approach is to put the complaints in writing, with a petition, so elected officials can judge the true scope of the problem.

What complaints there are seem to have started when the city allowed new houses to be built on the hill across the street from the existing businesses. They’re fine homes, but the buyers should have known they were not moving into an exclusive neighborhood tucked away from such realities as vast parking lots that need cleaning on a regular basis. All they had to do was look across the street. Businesses, like farmers, need some protection from residential encroachment.

Parking lots do need to be cleaned, and it’s obvious they can’t be cleaned when there are a bunch of cars parked on them. The stores open early and close late, so the early hours are the only time to get the job done.

The store managers have shown a willingness to work with the complainants so far as it is practical, but they can’t be expected to stop cleaning their parking lots. Nobody, including the new residents across the street, would be happy with that solution.

Perhaps the neighbors and businesses can get together and work out some compromise on cleaning hours. But this isn’t the city’s role. The businesses were there first and they have a right to clean their parking lots. The City Council should stand behind the businesses by not changing the noise ordinance.

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