Neighbors complain about loud music at new venue near downtown

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A video shot from the front porch of a bungalow on Cosmos Street is short, but it proves a point: music can be heard from the White Oak Music Hall four blocks away.

The recording, now on YouTube, was made in mid April. But five months later, the complaints on Cosmos Street haven't stopped.

"We do hear a loud bass sound that echos through the neighborhood, that we would like to see restricted," said Annie Sketch, who also lives on Cosmos Street. "I would love to have the music venue do well, and they would fit into the community, it's just basically the sound we have an issue with."

Even though White Oak Music Hall didn't officially open until mid-August, it has been hosting concerts on a "temporary" outdoor stage since spring. As the music venue's popularity has grown, so has the rift with some neighbors.

Houston Police records obtained by Eyewitness News show 69 loud noise complaints in the past five months. Court records show only one ticket has been issued in that time.

Frustrated with what she sees as a lack of action, Mollie Oshman went to City Hall today, and told city leaders that efforts to reason with the owners have gone nowhere.

"We've been meeting with these people for years and almost on every level they have not kept their word to us," she said.

White Oak's owners disagree. They would not talk on camera with Eyewitness News today, but during opening festivities last month, likened their outdoor venue to Discovery Green and other large public venues. Today, its representatives released a general statement:

"White Oak Music Hall is working with the city to make sure all shows at its lawn venue comply with all city permitting requirements. This includes any and all city oversight related to the stage."

The city permit for the temporary stage expires in early October. Mayor Sylvester Turner said today the city does not plan to arbitrarily re-issue a temporary permit, since the stage is suppose to be temporary.

"I certainly want them to get permanent permits, not temporary ones," said Turner. The Music Hall has already booked concerts well into the fall, and it's unclear at this point what would happen if the venue can not comply with a permanent permit in time.

"I am monitoring the situation out there, it is important for them to be good neighbors," said Turner, who added that both sides need to find some middle ground.

"We are not unreasonable people, we are not anti-development, or anti music," said Oshman. "It is the outdoor nature of the two venues that's problematic."
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