Noise, parking focus of panel

4 mins read

By Lisa Allen

A panel assembled by Main Street Beaufort, an organization representing downtown businesses, recently said property owners better keep their tenants in line regarding nighttime noise before the police do it for them.

“It’s gotten down to simply being reasonable,” said Graham Trask, who owns several downtown properties. “It comes down to taking responsibility for your tenants. I have turned away tenants because of the potential noise.”

Frank Lesesne, owner of Anchorage 1770, said Beaufort, isn’t — and shouldn’t be — known as a “bar town.” He said the appeal of Beaufort is its history and natural beauty, not its nightlife.  

Instead, he would like to see stores along Bay Street stay open later. “Our guests are looking for something to do.”

“We need to reach consensus on what we want downtown Beaufort to be,” he said. 

Lesesne said he would also like to see the pavilion in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park used more often, but not necessarily until midnight or 1 a.m.

Dick Stewart, owner of 303 Associates, said he converted a condo above the Common Ground coffee house to commercial property because of the possible noise downtown. 

He said the noise issue could create more conflict if the Whitehall property across the Beaufort River from downtown is developed into a residential area. A lingering lawsuit between the bank that owns the property and Stewart and Scott Tully has been resolved, clearing the way for a group bidding on the property to complete its purchase. 

“If you don’t fix the noise problem before (Whitehall residents) get here, there will be a heavy-handed approach,” Stewart said.

Linda Roper, director of downtown operations and community services for the city of Beaufort, said that no plans for the Whitehall property have been presented to the city. 

Existing city ordinances require noise levels to fall below a certain decibel at a certain distance by 10 p.m. weeknights and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights in the Nighttime Music District, which is the water side of Bay Street between Newcastle and Carteret streets.

Parking

The panel also discussed the familiar topic of downtown parking. 

Roper said the new payment hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. has helped the desired “churn” among parking, which enables people to find a spot more easily in the evening. 

When payment ended at 5 p.m., many people left their cars in one spot from mid-afternoon through the evening, making it harder for diners to find parking.

Stewart also talked about preliminary plans for a parking garage to serve the 78-room addition to The Beaufort Inn now underway.

City manager Bill Prokop said the city and 303 Associates are in discussions to decide if the parking garage could be a public-private endeavor. 

An agreement on a garage has not yet been reached.

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