Westfall, in his March 14 decision, which had been under advisement since the Feb. 1 trial in Telluride, agreed with the town’s attorney Lois Major that the argument of unconstitutionality was not raised prior to the trial and “therefore waived the making it its constitutional defense.”
“In any event,” Westfall’s decision stated. “The language of TMC 8.08 [noise ordinance], taken in its entirety, is not too vague for this Court to determine whether or not the defendant violated the ordinance.”
Because of a technicality in the issuance of one noise violation, Westfall did throw one citation out. Wilsey and Randazzo have been found by Westfall guilty of the four other citations and could face fines up to $1,000 per violation. Sentencing is set for April 4.
“Right now we don’t know how much the town is going to penalize us,” Wilsey said Wednesday. “If the fines are severe enough it could put us out of business with the penalties that could come just before off-season. Not to say that we haven’t been successful but it’s $1,000 per ticket. We are only a year old and we are still trying to get out of debt. There is a very good chance that it could push us under.”
“It’s disappointing,” said Wilsey and Randazzo’s attorney Dick Unruh. “It is just disappointing.”
Wilsey and Randazzo have owned the Bubble Lounge, which is located just south of Colorado Avenue on Fir Street, for just over one year and claimed at their trial that they have regularly booked live musical acts to stay competitive in the Telluride nightlife market.
Longtime residents Bob Dempsey and Suzanne Dahl live next door to the Bubble Lounge and in some places, share a wall with the popular nightspot. The live music at the lounge has brought the two residents countless sleepless nights, they testified. While on the stand at the Feb. 1 trial, both Dahl and Dempsey told Westfall that they have tried everything to find ways to sleep through the music, but sometimes must resort to calling the marshal’s department. The Bubble Lounge and the residences are located in a commercial/residential zone.
Both Wilsey and Randazzo said that they have tried to mitigate the noise by hiring a sound engineer to make the lounge more soundproof and have told bands to lower the volume every time they received a complaint. For Wilsey, the root of the problem is the zoning conflict between business and residents along the Colorado Avenue corridor.
“There is nothing in place to protect the businesses in town,” Wilsey said.
In the trial, Westfall heard testimony from two officers from the Telluride Marshal’s Department who wrote the five citations. They told the court that they don’t write citations every time they receive a noise complaint and that usually they try to get the volume lowered before a ticket is written. The town’s noise ordinance states that a noise is a violation if an “unnecessary noise” can be heard from 50 feet away. Both officers testified that all the citations were written when the music could be heard from more than 50 feet away.
It is unclear if Wilsey and Randazzo will appeal Westfall’s decision.