"Your actions probably have already damaged Memory Lane's business and may result in a lawsuit. However, to maximize your chance of avoiding litigation, you are hereby requested to cease and desist your disruptive campaign . . ."
Note: Ordinary citizen, mother and author Kimly West started out just wanting some peace and serenity in her family's life – to find some way to reduce the traffic and disruptive noise emanating from the neighboring Memory Lane Event Center in Dripping Springs. She is concerned about the effects on her own health and business pursuits. Local and state officials, she says, are at wits end. No help there, so far. Then she received a letter from the Dripping Springs law firm of Baker & Associates, threatening her with a lawsuit if she doesn't "cease and desist" from her "disruptive campaign of false information."
We're not sure if Kimly has been targeted, to silence her and to serve as an example to other neighbors who've also complained about the noise from Memory Lane. We have a call in to Mr. Robertson's office to check if other neighbors have received a similar letter from his law firm.
There has been at least one encouraging development, however. The county's mediation center has contacted West to offer its services to the warring parties. We're told the offer was made at the suggestion of the Sheriff's Department. West says she'll gladly take up the center's offer of mediation. Scroll down two stories for more background and comments.
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Below are excerpts from the e-mailed letter West received from attorney Thomas W. Robertson of Baker & Associates. It is followed by Kimly's response.
Dripping Springs, Texas 78620
Re: Memory Lane Event Center, LLC
Dear Mrs. West:
Baker & Associates has been hired by Memory Lane Event Center, LLC ("Memory Lane") and Mike Morgan to address the dispute you are having regarding the noise level at Memory Lane. We respectfully recommend you consult an attorney. If you have one, you should send this letter to your attorney.
. . . During the permitting process, adjacent property owners were notified and given an opportunity to be heard. For example, Judianne Ambrosio, who we think lives closer to the venue than you, spoke in favor of Memory Lane. At the end of the process, Memory Lane was permitted. While any one has the right to speak truthfully about a business, you do not have the right to publish falsehoods. Your accounts of the noise level are false, and appear to be motivated my malice.
We understand you have done the following things. If you in fact did not perform any of the actions listed below, we request that you state in writing so the misunderstanding may be investigated:
1) You have called and complained to both Karen Ford and Jon Thompson.
2) You presented to Jon Thompson a list of things you are intending to do to try to disrupt wedding ceremonies and receptions so word will get out to future brides that this is a bad place to get married.
3) You have told neighbors that you are on a mission to disrupt or destroy Memory Lane's legitimate business.
4) You have asked neighbors to sign a petition to join your cause.
[snip . . . there are 8 alledged actions]
Your actions probably have already damaged Memory Lane's business and may result in a lawsuit. However, to maximize your chance of avoiding litigation, you are hereby requested to cease and desist your disruptive campaign of false information (and particularly the outrageous blow horn tactics) or a lawsuit may be filed against you in which Memory Lane will seek all available damages and remedies against you for business defamation, tortious interference with existing contracts, and tortious interference with prospective business relations.
Do not call Memory Lane to discuss this matter. All communications about this matter from this point forward should be made to my office in writing . . .
Very truly yours,
Thomas W. Robertson
"complaints board" attachment
please email a receipt acknowledge response.
Thomas W. Robertson, P.C.
Baker & Association
Dripping Springs, Texas
Mike Morgan is a bully. Instead of working with his neighbors so all find peace again, he has contacted you with malicious and false accusations against me. We used to live in a ‘peaceful and quiet atmosphere,' but since they have built their outdoor pavilion, all kinds of justified complaints have arisen.
After numerous requests to turn the noise down to both Mike and Janet, I now find myself in a chronic health condition due to their inconsiderate and loud ways. (please see sleep deprivation attachments).
#1 is correct. Regarding your issues of whether I’ve talked with our county commissioner, Karen Ford, and Jon Thompson at the City of Dripping Springs, I have every right to speak to my local representatives; especially when it is to voice my concerns over an intrusive and offensive business practice. For Mike to imply that I spoke inappropriately or destructively with either official says more about Mike Morgan than myself. Karen Ford has shown me, in all of our conversations, compassion and understanding about the situation over here. (see below #8 of the Texas Constitution/Article 1/Bill Of Rights).
For your info, since you haven’t researched the issue to the depth that I have, we have no noise ordinance in this county for unincorporated areas. It is a major problem far and wide. As Hays County becomes more suburbanized, these noise concerns will become more prevalent, with more and more homeowners voicing complaints about inappropriate locations for business ventures. As soon as our county officials are able to, I have been informed that a county-wide noise ordinance will be written and enforced. (see attached noise ordinance for the City of San Marcos).
State law does have a noise ordinance and it states that measurements are to be taken at the property line of the owner who is making the noise. Not on any one complainant’s property.
My meeting with Jon was to voice my concerns and to see if the City could help me; especially since I am a close neighbor and was not contacted prior to their new business venture, as stated by law. I viewed the open records file the City of Dripping Springs has compiled on this property. It is a very thick file with many complaints and concerns from numerous neighbors. You should read it as well. Your comments in #2 are totally inaccurate and false.
Again, let me re-iterate that I wasn’t invited or included in that meeting, which is against the law when improving residential to commercial properties. The law states that ALL neighbors are to be notified.
For your information, the Morgan’s built their new pavilion and upgraded their residence to a commercial venture without the proper city permits or approval. The City of Dripping Springs found out about this new venture through neighbor complaints. They were fined by the city. They city had no other option than to approve this venture; it was already built. The city has jurisdiction over septic, signage, and impervious cover only. (fyi: the Morgan’s are built out to their 15% impervious cover. No new construction can occur).
Your comments in #3 are ridiculous. What I say in a private conversation, pro or con, is no one’s concern but the parties privy to said conversation.
#4 is incorrect. I have not seen a completed petition for signage.
#5 is correct. Justin stated that wedding centers and noise vibrations are a problem for neighbors. It’s not the ceremonies. It’s the party afterwards. He has received numerous complaints about a venue in north Austin. Nothing illegal about speaking with Justin.
Regarding the Ambrosios…..they live in a straw bale house that has 12” thick walls. That’s 1 foot thick walls. You cannot credit any inside noise levels at their house due to this fact. Also re: Judy’s comments from that city council meeting are as follows: “people could come up with something else to do on those nights like take their wife out to dinner and movie if the noise bothers them. Or have their own party.” When outside, she hears the noise, just like everyone else.
#6 is ridiculous. I don’t even know what a bull horn is. I did state to Mike that I have had a problem with my car alarm. My son broke my remote and I plan on replacing it. If the Morgan’s still lived in our area, they would have heard this broken alarm a few times. Besides my broken alarm, I did hear a horn in the neighborhood. I have no idea where it was coming from, nor who did it. There are many other neighbors in the area. And there are no noise ordinances.
Regarding Mike’s ridiculous comments that his noise meter has measured 0 decibels, he should hire an acoustical consultant to take accurate and recorded measurements at different locations around his property line. Wind and directional speeds would be measured and recorded. Cheap hand held devices do not accurately measure decibel levels. Mike needs to check his hearing.
The Morgan’s built on top of a hill, surrounded by small acreage homeowners, just like themselves. Their 14 acres is nowhere near big enough for what they are trying to do. It’s not an optimum location.
Mike and Janet need to recognize that the world is full of other people. They aren’t the only ones who live here. There are over 40 families impacted by their activities. I am not the only one to complain. (again, refer to the complaints in the city file.)
#7 is correct. Regarding the complaints at the complaints board in Austin; this is the very reason there is a complaints board. It is for folks who have legitimate complaints – which many of us do. (again, refer to #8 of the Texas Constitution/Article 1/Bill of Rights).
#8 Last November when I last spoke with Mike with a noise complaint, he offered to come to my property to hear their noise vibration. I agreed, and he never showed up. The next weekend they had 3 parties, a fri/sat/sun whopper, which were louder than before, with much cheering and clapping. He never showed that weekend either. In fact, he never got back with me, not once (until yesterday that is). Regarding whether he may come now, the answer is no. I do not want him at my home. Please advise your client that he must take sound measurements when the music is playing, with a device that accurately records noise levels at his property line!
During my conversation with him this morning I stated, “why would I care what he does on his property unless it impacts me in a negative way.” He had no comment to this. Our State of Texas law regarding unincorporated areas states that we have the right, by law, to do what we will on our individual properties. Mike needs to realize that others have the same rights as he does. And I have no reason to exaggerate the noise vibration problem.
During our conversation this morning, I shared with Mike that the owner of Nutty Brown Café has offered to the neighbors, who have filed a TABC suit against Nutty Brown Café for excessive noise, that Nutty Brown will limit concerts to one a month. Mike had no comment to this. (all of that mess is on the net – just google Nutty Brown Café).
Regarding the direct impact upon me and my family – I am under extreme and chronic sleep deprivation due to this problem. For every party they have, it takes me 1-2 days to recover. They have had over 50+ parties last year which means that I have lost 100+ nights of sleep; that’s 3+ months or ¼+ of the year! Have you ever tried sleeping next to a car with subwoofers blaring full blast. You should try it.
And the bottom line on my personal reaction. I wrote a book back in 2004 called ‘
There is a solution to this problem. All they have to do is turn the volume down to 60 decibels and stop the music at 9pm. (see noise attachment). This was my suggestion to Mike this morning.
And my last point is: I have spoken with an attorney and his advice is as follows: sue the Morgan’s in small claims court for ‘abatement of nuisance’. My enjoyment of my home is being affected. I’m considering this possibility. Before I choose this route, I want to make sure I’ve explored all of the city and county avenues. Of course, there’s always mediation.
In conclusion, the Morgan’s have neighbors who are still angry and upset. As long as the noise vibrations continue, so does everyone’s anger. The Morgan’s can fix this major problem. They can turn this situation around by ending their parties at a decent hour and by turning down the music. It’s that easy.
Please feel free to share this letter with all concerned parties.