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Inn owner irked at noise

It wasn’t the rumbling of an engine or a train’s horn that caught the attention of Selma City Council members last night. A noise complaint, though, against a business on Water Avenue made their ears perk up.

Kathi Needham, owner of Bridge Tenders House Bed and Breakfast at 2 Lafayette Park, told the council she wanted relief from noise caused by CJ’s Oyster Bar and Grill at 1124 Water Ave.

To demonstrate the volume of noise coming from the restaurant, Needham played a recording that was taped from one of the bedrooms of the bed and breakfast. Sounds of loud conversation and glasses tinkling could be heard on the tape.

Needham’s complaint is fueled by a loss of business &045;&045; tourists are fleeing from the bed-and-breakfast because they can’t get a good night’s sleep, she said.

Needham has complained to the Selma Police Department, but without much success, she says, because once officers leave the scene, the oyster bar’s music is turned back up.

Needham also provided council members with copies of police reports concerning the oyster bar, explaining that since Feb. 22, 2003, six incidents of noise or fighting occurred at the business.

Needham suggested the council revoke the oyster bar’s liquor license. If that doesn’t work, she added, then revoke the business license as well.

Chandra Prather, owner of CJ’s Oyster Bar and Grill, takes issue with Needham’s statements.

The restaurant hosts karaoke Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, but the noise created by the singing is no louder than that at Raphael’s Bar & Grill &045;&045; another local bar on Water Avenue &045;&045; or at the St. James Hotel when it offers music on its back porch, Prather said.

Prather doesn’t mind city officials enforcing the city’s noise ordinance, but wants it enforced equally to all businesses in the area, she said. Prather’s also open, she says, to discussing the matter with Needham and the council.

That’s just fine with Councilman James Durry, who’d like to see the oyster bar’s owners appear before the Council. In the meantime, Council members have tabled the matter until they receive additional information.