With its numerous concerts and music festivals, Columbia County Amphitheater attracts large crowds from Augusta and surrounding areas.
Some county residents don't have to travel far to hear the music, though. They say they can feel it from inside their homes.
"Even with the door closed, sitting on my couch, I could still feel throbbing in my chest," Kaye Gilliard said about a recent concert at the amphitheater.
Gilliard, who has lived in her Northwood home since 1992, said that for the most part she loves having the venue nearby but that the recent concerts were too loud and inappropriate for a Sunday afternoon.
Barry Smith, the county's director of community and leisure services, said he had several noise complaints since the April 27 concert featuring Lady Antebellum and Luke Bryan.
"We are addressing it. We're probably not going to schedule any concerts at all on Sundays (after the Music Evolution Series)," Smith said. Current Sunday shows are starting earlier.
Another resident of Northwood said that when she moved to the Evans area two years ago she didn't expect to hear any loud concerts.
"We did not buy next to a rock stadium," Gail Brown said "We did not buy next to a loud musical venue."
After many concerts, Brown said, her three children, ages 7, 5 and 2, often become uptight around bedtime.
As a board member of her Northwood neighborhood association, Brown has fielded numerous complaints from neighbors, and she said she has sought answers from county officials.
"By no means are we trying to cause trouble, disappoint or irritate people," Smith said. "It is a revenue-based facility, and we're trying our best to bring the quality of events that people will attend and pay for."
Many county residents wanted more well-known acts to play at the amphitheater, said Smith. Popular artists brings an increase in volume, he said.
"The community-based local talent just didn't bring anybody," he said. "But then, when we get something better, it's generally a little bit louder."
Every concert, Smith said, has been held in compliance with the county's noise ordinance, which does not allow music to be played between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. if it can be heard from 50 feet away.
Smith said that adding a decibel level to the ordinance might prove beneficial.
After receiving a noise complaint by e-mail, Sean Frantom, an owner of For the Fans Entertainment, said he and his partners started making efforts to curb complaints from Northwood residents.
"Since that initial e-mail, we've bumped up two shows 30 minutes to make accommodations," said Frantom, who co-owns the Music Evolution Series. "We've also already changed the times for the September and the October show to a day time."
Both the Sept. 28 and Oct. 26 concerts are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., according to For the Fans Entertainment's Web site.
They've also notified their sound technician of the situation and to control the sound level, he said.
Though some Northwood residents aren't big fans of the loud music drifting toward their homes, other neighbors seem to enjoy their front-row seats.
"I've actually gone in my backyard when the weather's nice and just sat down and listened to it," said Northwood resident Laura Fullington. "Unfortunately, we're moving away, but I've used it for a selling feature of the house."
Northwood resident Frank Williams lives almost directly behind the amphitheater, and though he said the concert noise becomes bothersome at night when his children are ready for bed, he wouldn't file a grievance with the county.
"We love the amphitheater," he said. "We love the park and library right there. The concerts aren't yearlong. We don't want the concerts stopped, but it would not kill me if they started an hour earlier and ended an hour earlier."
Williams said the site planned for the Evans Town Center Park might be an ideal location for loud concerts, while keeping smaller events at the county's amphitheater.
While their opinions might vary, many Northwood residents do agree that the amphitheater is a good asset to the community.
Brown, who said she may start a petition against the concert noise, believes a happy medium can be found.
"It's about compromising," Brown said. "Let's schedule better times for these concerts, earlier in the day, and have some decibel limitations that make sense.
"I think that it's terrific that we have this facility, and I love to see it being used, and I love that people are enjoying the concerts, but they need to find a decibel level that works."
Though Frantom understands the frustrations of some, he said he appreciates the community's support and hopes it will continue.
"We want to be here for years to come and not be a distraction or an inconvenience to anyone," he said. "We're trying to do what we can to make sure that there are no further complaints in the future."
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