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Monday, April 19, 2010

Requests for peace & quiet in Dripping Springs turns into a lawsuit threat


"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.

Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com or click on the "comments" button at the bottom of the story

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.



Kimly West

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

cc: clients
"complaints board" attachment

_________________


Sir,

please email a receipt acknowledge response.

peace,
kimly

Thomas W. Robertson, P.C.

Baker & Association

Dripping Springs, Texas

Dear sir,

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 ‘"SpiritualGuideToBumperStickers, vol 1." You may still find a copy on line; read it and then judge my character. I’m currently working on vol.2 and it isn’t going very well. I can’t concentrate, and am barely able to meditate. They are impacting my business 100%. This cumulative lack of sleep is awful.

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.

Peace,

Kimly west

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

To the Editor:

Could we NOT have any more of this foolishness on the blog?

Whether right or wrong this noise and assorted other issues have been mishandled by all parties.

Let them deal with it in whatever way they want to but keep it off the blog.

It is foolish and a waste of our time.

Anonymous said...

Agreed This is just a way for both sides to misrepresent the truth.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the "foolish" comments posted on this blog...don't read them. Skip over the article and began reading the next one, it is that simple. We are having an issue that we have discussed with our local elected officials and also those causing the the problem. We want our peace and quiet back. It is that simple. We are not only trying to correct these issues but to also protect the other residents of this county and to possibly prevent it from happening to them. I am sorry you feel we are 'wasting' your time, maybe one day when a piece of land near you gets developed into a live outdoor music venue you will appreciate our actions. -peace

Left the Right Behind said...

This issue is not a waste of time. It is a core issue for all Americans these days if we look at what is happening to our nation.

Our nation's citizens, at all levels, have been willing to bend over and take it from businesses under the abusive rationale that what is good for business is good for all Americans. This is a flat out lie.

We see the Tea Party wingnuts ignorantly blaming the government for what corporate America does to them, while they support lobby money corrupted and sleazy Republicans who exploit their ignorance and white trash sentiments.

We see mindless Democrats not willing to admit that Obama and Dodd et al are in the pockets of the Goldman Sacks-US Treasury good old boy cabal, lending money out to these Wall Street crooks as they make record profits, while forcing small businesses to layoff and cut back.

We see state, county, and local business corrupted politican cronies using the tax teet to run those governments, screwing the public citizen while cynically attacking the selectively positive use of government in the process.

We see xenophobic and racist right wing hate groups grow in membership, scapegoating immigrants, gays, Jews, and blacks, while ignoring the real problem - corporations who send jobs overseas and make every attempt to cut back on fair wages, the ability to work, and on the job safety - all with the blessing of the Republican and Democrat political duopoly.

Most Americans are sadly ignorant as they can't see that their mindless love of American free enterprise has created a cognitive conundrum as the free markets are being used against them to keep them down and out of the real elitist wealth accumulation happening in this nation.

And finally, as applies to this blog, we see lawyers and local politicians brown-nosing with business interests to make a buck and keep them in office, regardless of the effect is has on property owners, consumers, and the common good.

No wonder America is such a mess. There is very little justice or rule of law anymore. Powerful and greedy business interests think they can do whatever they want to citizens. But most pathetically, the politicians at all different levels of government support such abuse by not enforcing regulations, dumbing down the regulations, or just plain not having any regulations.

Americans deserve the screwing they get from business interests when they ignorantly attack unions, muckrackers, whistle blowers, IMF demonstrators, the Ralph Naders of the world, bloggers like me who tell the truth, and, most of all, regulations put forth to protect them from their ignorant and lazy selves.

Actually, the Tea Parties have it right - except for the misguided hate, the sick mindset of many members, the focus on guns as a solution, the paranoia, the lies, the white trash ignorance, and their support of the most vile wing of the Republican Party who are using the Tea Party to push their own corrupt anti-citizen agenda.

Oh yes, I agree with what "Noise Abatement Specialist" stated in a previous comment:

"Memory Lane, out of common courtesy, should cut off the noise at 10 PM. If they are not willing, civil disobedience by the neighbors is justified."

Anonymous said...

I assure you that when "the big noise" happens to me I will not subject the people on blogs to somehow get involved with my problem.

I will hire an attorney and fight those who I believe are action illegally against my interests.

I'm sorry you are wasting our time with this.

You should be hiring an attorney or going to the offices of your local and state representatives to seek some kind of resolution.

Writing all this on blogs just stirs up more nonsense without any way of coming to a solution.

You are venting your emotions rather than searching for resolutions.

Anonymous said...

What's hilarious is that if there were any real legal obligation to be enforced I fully assume that Ms. West and her family would have pursued it, or one of the others would have as well. Consultations with attorneys will reveal that there is little or nothing that the legal system can do without it being labeled as a frivolous lawsuit, and risk being thrown out and the costs of the defendant being loaded on the litigant's back. So crying and whining on this blog is the only option that they have to try and sway public opinion in their favor, or to harm the business of the defendant, which is an actionable item in a court of law as evidenced by the apparent letters that have been posted to this blog confirming that the threat of lawsuit against the complainant is very real if her intent is to harm the reputation of the business which is operating fully within their legal rights, and have taken actions to mitigate the complaints from the neighbors all for naught apparently as the neighbors get an inch and want a mile for their efforts.

cozyhome said...

i, kimly west, am seeking my legal right (according to our u.s. constitution, to live in my home, and upon my land, in a peaceful way. i look at this obnoxious noise as intrusive upon my personal property and quiet way of life.

the purpose of my letter to the editor is to share with my fellow hays county residents, that we have a huge problem in our county. as far as i have been able to find out, we have no county noise ordinance. austin does, san marcos does, but the unincorporated areas do not.

sound pollution and low noise vibration area big health issue all across the country. if anyone would like to google these two topics, please do. then you will see all of the detrimental health effects low noise vibration has upon the ones health.

take it a step further, and you will learn that low noise vibration is a substantiated torture tactic (it was used in that waco incident).

there is a national noise website called noise pollution clearinghouse; whose tag line is: GOOD NEIGHBORS KEEP THEIR NOISE TO THEMSELVES. you can google this too.

all i have requested from memory lane event center is neighborly consideration and to please turn the volume down and end at a decent hour.

it's really sad to see that our country and state need to enact laws governing common courtesy and polite, considerate neighborly relations. but since this is the case, i will work towards all of us being able to get a good night's sleep every single night.

peace to all,
kimly

Rough Riders fan said...

Left the Right Behind is SPOT ON with the statement "We see state, county, and local business corrupted politician cronies using the tax teet to run those governments, screwing the public citizen while cynically attacking the selectively positive use of government in the process."

Patrick Rose, Karen Ford, the commissioners court and the city of DS should be rushing in to "Save the Day!'like good public servants should. Instead it looks like they prefer to hide behind the closed doors of their big offices and let Mrs. West get hammered by a lawsuit to silence her.

Big Business vs Little Ordinary Citizen. In this case it looks pretty clear, by their own silence, which side they curry to. If they don't try to tackle the problem of loud and offensive outdoor venue noise now when will they? When it's too late, per usual, after the little people have been duly suppressed, and others to follow.

Public servants my arse. They are all cowards. And worse, they know full well they have it within their power and authority to act together to enact solutions for all concerned. Isn't that what they're paid to do?

This little neighborhood tussle serves as an example to all of the ineptitude of our current sorry crop of elected public officials, starting with Rose and followed by the commissioners court, to deal with real issues that affect real citizens.

Quit fartin' around public officials, quit picking sides, and start doing the jobs you're paid to do. Government BY,FOR AND OF THE PEOPLE!

Anonymous said...

Don't expect any help what-so-ever from local officials here unless they are paid by the powerful to do something.

It is a shame that they will not "rock the boat" on any issue that may warrants it. Karen Ford is one of the worst and so is Patrick Rose. They seem afraid to rise up and challenge the wealthy and powerful order, afraid of the repercussion of any action on behalf of the community good.

Jeff Wentworth is the same. As an example, his holiness will not lift a finger against PEC even though he is on the Senate Energy Committee. He sits back and watches.

Large billboards are growing along FM 1826, but will Karen Ford step up and work with the commmunity and state officials, Rose and Wentworth, to stop the growth of billboards in residential neighborhoods?

Noise pollution? No one gives a crap about that near residential areas either.

Apparently, we must keep voting out officials until we get some good people in there who do care about what is happening in the community. Nothing wrong with placating special interests, but also work with the community on these sort of problems.

This commentary should focus more on our local officials and how they opt to stay away from any real resolutions with community issues nad problems. Instead, they sit back and observe the chaos.

Not a good job: Jeff Wentworth, Patrick Rose, Karen Ford, Jeff Barton, Will Conley, Debbie Ingalsbe. You really should get off your butts and be more helpful with community issues.

Anonymous said...

This is not a community issue, just an isolated case of someone that expects special treatment. It is sad that the frustrated lefty losers have to chime in and make this a left vs. right issue. This whole thing is getting more exposure and time here, simply to allow the left to vent their frustrations since they have and will continue to lose elections and following. The Tea Party has them on the run due to their chosen leaders, Obama, Pelosi and Reid. You can feel their frustration every time they use the homosexual term, “Tea Bagger”, a term I suspect they are intimately familiar with.

Remember the Alamo! said...

The Great Distracter, there you go again with your Obama, left-right off topic rants. I don't think you'd recognize a local community issue if you tripped over it. This quaint little spat over loud noise invading our quiet country quality of life has huge implications for all of us. Pull your head out of the toilet, dude. Things that start at the grassroots level, by the citizens, is what makes this country great. Always has and always will. Remember that little "isolated case" called the American Resolution? I for one will not entrust our local officials to handle this matter fairly. I support Kimly and her neighbors in what they are trying to do for all of us who, for the most part, can still enjoy our evenings peacefully. She's got my vote.

Anonymous said...

"This is not a community issue" Anonymous:

A "left issue"? Are you an imbecile? Karen Ford is a Democrat who doesn't do much except to show up at events and at meetings. What major contribution has she made in the past 4 years?

If the guy running against her wasn't such a GOP wiener, I would vote for him against Ford. I hope she comprehends how lucky she is that no one decent is running against her.

Excessive noise should NOT be permitted in residential neighborhoods no matter how thick the house walls are. Idiots!!!

Anonymous said...

Annonymous said, "this is not a community issue."
I cannot disagree more with this statement. It makes no difference what your party affiliation is. If you've got ears to hear with, this is an issue that can affect each and every one of us.
Consider yourself lucky that you don't live close to a noisey business. But please consider how you'd feel if an open air music venue opened close to your neighborhood and started playing music every weekend that was loud enough to keep you from being able to enjoy a peaceful existence within your own home.
Our community should be supportive of neighbors who are currently having to put up with this type of noise.

Sensible Capitalist said...

Here we see how the right wing nuts contribute to Americans being killed in coal mines and corporate wars - they hate reality - the reality that powerful business interests are treated with more respect than human beings and citizen rights.

You fools continue to attack lefties because you are too blind to see they are correct about your freedom lies and American pies.

Back to the local issue, both Kimmy and Memory Lane have rights. But Kimmy and the neighbors should take precedent either by common consideration or by legal rights. But no, she must fight for something that should not have to be defended.

Fortunately we still can make a few consumer choices. So if local government mediation cannot forge a solution between Kimmy & Memory Lane, then a community business boycott is in order. If that fails, civil disobedience is the next step.

Chief Larry Wide Stance said...

Anonymous before Left the Alamo knows about "tea bagging". He admits to his gay knowledge. Do I hear a coming out of the closet from a tortured conservative?

You are not the only closet log cabin conservative, my friend. Hold your head up high - but I say stay out of airport bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

If this is not a community issue (the intrusion of business into our quite and beautiful neighborhoods) then I have no idea what is. People have to make noise on blogs like these, in communities and among their neighbors to get the government's attention. After all, if the government doesn't feel pressure, it probably won't change because the status quo is much more comfortable. For those who lack sympathy for their neighbors who can't get decent and restful shut-eye, then the issue doesn't just lie with businesses. It resides within the lack of compassion between citizens. Stop complaining about whether or not this is a right or left issue, or an issue involving the community. Stand up for your fellow citizens and neighbors and make this awful situation right.

Anonymous said...

I can not believe this all turned into a 'left' or 'right' issue. It IS a community issue. I still live next to these noise making bozos!! They contend that I can't hear their parties...If I can't hear them then why am I complaining? That is how stupid the owners of Memory Lane Event Center are. And yes a lawsuit is in the works...soon, very, very soon. Maybe you can read about that some day.