Starlite Drive-In not happy with proposed changes to noise ordinance

Proposal will go before town council April 24

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – The clash over the Starlite Drive-In in Christiansburg continues as the town council considers a new noise ordinance.

The third and final public hearing on the issue happened Tuesday night.

Starlite Drive-In has been a staple in the New River Valley since 1953.

"It just a little mom and pops drive-in. It's nothing mega about this place but it's legendary," general manager Brian Atkins said.

They're working hard to prepare for opening night next Thursday, celebrating the start of their 65th season, but owner Peggy Beasley is worried about the future.

"If this season is not any better than last season, there won't be a 2019," Beasley said.

The issue started in 2016, when police ticketed the drive-in for noise disturbance after they installed new speakers and people living nearby complained.

"On level five, seventh row, you can barely hear it. And the people that live behind it say that these things rattle their plates and windows and I don't believe that," Atkins said.

The town is trying to find a solution that will please both residents and business owners by changing the noise ordinance. The proposal outlines exactly how loud noise coming from a specific property can be and at what times. It also allows businesses to apply for a conditional use permit if they think they'll regularly violate the ordinance. That would cost $750 and have to go through town council.

"We want to have some standards that are clearly understood by all parties and can be clearly followed as much as possible and that our police officers are able to enforce it as well," said Andrew Warren, Christiansburg planning director.

Noise coming from commercial properties, including Starlite, would be limited to 65 decibels. For comparison, that's about the same level as a conversation.

"If they can't hear it, they're not coming back. Why would you?" Beasley said.

Town council will vote on the noise ordinance April 24.

"We didn't mean to start a civil war in Christiansburg. All we were trying to do is stay in business," Atkins said.

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