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Author Topic: Satan Lives in my Neighborhood  (Read 94202 times)
Danoplex II
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« on: September 22, 2006, 11:48:44 am »

Hello everyone,

Yesterday I received a certified letter from the Town of Plainfield, Indiana.  It stated that I must stop showing movies in my backyard.  As you all can imagine I was livid.  They provided documentation that I am violating zoning laws by having an outdoor theater.  They also referred me to a document that spoke of acceptable "Home Occupations" and not acceptable "Home Occupations".  As you all know I charge nothing to put on my movies.  Sell nothing.  I do invite the entire neighborhood in hopes that it will bring a little neighborly love to the table.  I spoke to a young lady this morning that generated this letter.  She said one person complained.  He wrote the police chief and they did not do anything.  So he wrote in hopes that they could find a possible zoning violation.  Of course there has been no documentation given to me other than vague references but nothing straight on conclusive.  The law and zoning ordinances are up to interpretation.  They interpret this to be something that would not be normal and a nuisance.  Anyone have any ideas?

I spoke with a lawyer this morning and he felt thet they do not have the ability to govern this.  I sent him all my correspondance and he is reviewing it and will be firing off a letter to them.  In the interim, I am to attend a Twon Board meeting on October 2nd to plead my case with the zoning board.  Anyone want to come? 

So, remind me.  If I see someone having a heart attack in Plainfield to not help them as we do not have good samaritan laws in place and I could be sued for saving someone's life.  Welcome to the litigeous world we all live in.

Dano - felon
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WarrenP
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2006, 12:07:18 pm »

Wow, sorry to hear about this. I hope you'll come out of it intact.

I'd guess that the only possible outcome is a fine for playing the music "too loud", although I'm not sure how to prove that after the fact. As far as I know you're allowed to have a party in the US, and I'm pretty sure you are allowed to show a movie, if you so desired, to your party guests, as long as you are not charging them to watch the movie.

Good luck!
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2006, 12:12:14 pm »

Dano,

  Did this "one" person ever directly complain to you? If he didn't and went straight to the police/city, he is a coward also.

I won't be able to make it to the meeting, but I will be there in spirit my friend.
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Danoplex II
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2006, 12:32:58 pm »

Kieth,

The "one" person whom I shall pen the name Nice Gentleman did not talk directly to me but involved the police during one showing.  The PoPo came by, asked me to reduce the volume and left.  They did not stick around to see if I turned it back up, down or even stay to see if it was turned to an acceptable level.  So that right there to me seems that it was not a critical mass situation to the police.

Dano
« Last Edit: September 25, 2006, 10:57:14 pm by Danoplex II » Logged

Cherry Hills
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2006, 01:16:45 pm »

I don't see the problem here, and I'm sure the town board won't, either.

If you had a swimming pool in your back yard and had a pool party, would he complain? Trampoline? Swings? Treehouse?

Is the screen the differentiator? How big does the structure have to be, before it's a "public nuisance"? Or the crowd? How many people have to come? What if you have four daughters and they all want to get married in your back yard? Is that a public nuisance?

There is absolutely no difference between all those other "nuisance" activities and your movie screen, IMO. You were asked to turn down the sound at night, and you did. End of story. Your lawyer should have a field day with this. (Don't let him charge you a bunch, though, because it doesn't sound like much work to me. I'm not a lawyer, but in a jury of your peers, I'd be for you.)
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Cherry Hills Drive-way Theater
Danoplex II
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2006, 01:34:34 pm »

Cherry Hills,

Man you would not believe this woman I was speaking with.  Aparantly she does not like to be wrong.  And she is IMO  :-)  I am planning on giving examples just like you stated.  What about a BY BBQ?  People, smoke, possibly music?  How does that become different than a movie, or a graduation party.  It just really gripes me that someone who is no fun has to complain and bring the fun down for everyone else.  My lawyer won't charge me much as I have pre-paid legal.  They will stick a letter out in the mail to them for free.  I think if I can keep my cool during this meeting, I should be able to state my case. 

I would appreciate more examples from you all if you can come up with any because I want a preparred case to present.

Thanks for the support.

Dano
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 01:25:14 pm by Danoplex II » Logged

kelemvor
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2006, 01:34:50 pm »

I think the only thing thaty can do anything about is the noise.  If you crank it loud so you can all hear and your neighbors can hear it as well (in their houses or whatever) then it's probably a violation of something.  But other than that I doubt there's anything they can legally do.

And of course, get somethign in writing of the noise ordinances for your area because some places say you can't be loud before a certain time or after a certain or something like that.

If you wanted to, you could confront the person (assuming you know who it is) and be overly nice and say that you wish they would have simply talked to you about their concerns instead of trying to go over your hear to the cops.  ANd of course, spread the word in the neighborhood about who it was and what he did too.

Anyway, good luck.
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2006, 01:39:37 pm »

 Think it’s curious that the towns first step would be to tell you that you have to stop, as opposed to talking with you.  Do they publish their zoning laws online?  Would love to see the specific language your allegedly in violation of.

Obviously if your sound pressure levels are beyond those allowed, you’d have to turn it down to an acceptable level.  But this sounds like a non-commercial private gathering on your property to me.  There are much worse parties you could be having on your property.  Hopefully you have a few other neighbors who agree that this is over the top and will attend with you.   Just because an activity isn’t considered “normal” by some doesn’t make it “illegal”.  When governing bodies begin condemning peaceful private gatherings like this, they need to be called on it, imho. 

I’m guessing that if someone were having a heart attack you would help them if you could, regardless of the legal system.  Take the high road on this.  And rally your friends.  That’s my advice.

Randy
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Danoplex II
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2006, 01:46:47 pm »

Yes the ordinances are available online.  i have not hunted them but was referred to this site. www.townofplainfield.com

I would help someone having a heart attack except this Fine Gentleman. 

I am checking into the noise ordinances.  Waiting for the PoPo to return my call.  Also, I wonder if when someone calls them if the call origin is a matter of public record.  I am considering a petition from my neighbors.

Dano
« Last Edit: September 25, 2006, 10:58:34 pm by Danoplex II » Logged

tlogan6797
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2006, 02:28:30 pm »

Dano -

There is ALWAYS somone out to spoil the fun. I hope your lawyer makes his point and this all goes away. Not being a lawyer, here's my .02:

Personally, I would go and waste as much of the board's time as possible. If your accuser has ANY hope of prevailing, he/she had better show up. The zoning bimbo appears to be using an illegal occupation argument. First off, they would have to prove that you are, in fact, engaging in an occupation. What evidence do they have? Secondly, there appears to be a noise argument. A cursory look at the town noise ordinance refers to aircraft and an overlay diestrict and a 10 db penalty between 10om and 7pm. If this is not a typo and matches what the REAL document says, then you are probably pretty safe playing your sound track as loud as you want between 7pm and 10 pm. I saw no refreneces to decibels levels in reference to any other uses. If you are NOT in one of the overlay districts, you could say something like "If the board would be so kind as to provide those regulations, I would be happy to comply." Although again, they need proof in the first place that you are NOT in compliance. Did someone on the board (or the police) take measurements with an SPL meter? Sound is relative and we all hear differently. Loud to one person is not loud to another. The only way to tell is with empirical measurements against a published policy. Finally, and I did not look closely enough, most of the policies are written in a weasely kind of "well...we'll know it when we see it" kind of way. Your lawyer should be able to tell whether things not specifically called out are included or excluded form the ordinance. I didn't see anything that looks like it would specifically apply to this situation.  Then it is just a matter of convincing the board. Then if it  doesn't go your way, I would appeal the hell out of it until they give up and just say, "OK, go away."

A while back, there was a kind of interesting thread over on AVS builders forum about people having trouble getting permits to build "theaters" in their basements. The permit people would hear the word "theater" and automatically think this falls under the commercial codes. The trick, I think, is to not call it a thaeter. Call it anything but that. Dano, if you are sending out invitations, try not to use the word "theater." I'd be sure to use the words "invited" and "party."

Good luck! I am most interested in how this turns out.

Tom
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Danoplex II
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2006, 04:11:07 pm »

Tom,

Your $ .02 was worth its weight in gold.  Right after I read your post the Chief of Police called me back.  We had an awesome chat.  Per your post, I asked him what the acceptable db levels were until I would be disturbing the peace.  He could not state and exact level as there are no guidelines for that in any law that he knows of.  I also asked him how many of the Plainfield police cars are equipped with bd meters to which he said a big fat 0.  I also asked him if the Plainfield Police department owns one and again he said no.  He was very cool to talk to and even expressed interest in coming to one of the movies.  He is on my email list now...lol  In summation, there is no law that pertains to this and he pretty much admitted that all the PoPo could do was to just ask me to turn it down...not tell.  I asked him about time guidelines and he stated that I would for sure not have any problems before 8:00pm but I should not have any problems up to 11:00-12:00 on a Friday or Saturday night.  So, legally as far as noise goes, I am OK.

As far as being in the corridor for the noise from aircraft, I am in a neighborhood that is split by two approach/takeoff runways.  Pretty much right between them.  I hear noise from airplanes that far exceeds my movies (but I bet I could compete)  :-)  I think I have to find clear language about the zoning before anyone can do anything.  I think that is going to be difficult for them to enforce as there isnt any.

Thanks for the insight again,

Dano
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 01:29:17 pm by Danoplex II » Logged

rrg
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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2006, 09:02:15 pm »

If you live by the aircraft noise you may be under a larger or louder  noise level requirement set by the town when the airport routes were put in. In other words your area may be under a loud db noise requirement that a plane needs to follow. Well below what a movie or people talking would be.

If you can measure the airplane level with a sound level meter and compare that on your  movie night along your fence line. It could help your case.

Just a thought.
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hiredpower
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2006, 09:45:23 pm »

It's a nice night here and I have my windows open. I was startled by what I thought was someone talking outside my room. I soon realized it was the announcer for the high school football game tonight. The stadium is mile and a half away...some might consider that annoying.
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2006, 09:55:10 pm »

Invite the police chief and the board to a "special" movie night to demonstrate what you are doing and explain this will allow them to make an informed decision.  It sounds like the letter was a squeeky wheel getting some grease and not anything that is really overly inforcable. 

Taking the sound measurments at all sides of your yard and then also from your front wall and neighbors back yards in the direction that the speakers are facing.

The only other thing I can think of is if your projector is putting a lot of light onto the "Jackass" house. The light could be consicered an anoyance.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Danoplex II
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2006, 11:46:17 pm »

I do not think the db meter measurements will mean anything to anyone as there is not a law about noise in Plainfield.  ChefTom, Fine Gentleman's home is not anywhere the projector light would be a problem as my screen is in front of my deck, which is attached to my home and I project directly at my home.  The projector overshoot hits the bottom of my deck and if any bleeds over it is on my own roof.  So, unless someone is on my roof I see that as NOT being the problem.

I had a long drive tonight (3 hours) and plenty of thinking time.  At my meeting, I am going to first ask the board to describe to me what a movie theater is in their own minds.  Then ask if it is acceptable for me to sit on my deck watching a 19" TV.  Ask them if I was watching a movie on that TV that was on broadcast TV if that is acceptable.  Then ask them if I plugged the 19" TV into an amp and made the sound louder so I could hear it in the back of the yard....  Then ask them if I got a bigger TV say a 35" if that was OK.  Then bump the size up.  I am going to get them to pretty much admit it is OK to watch TV in my yard and have them tell me the difference in TV and a movie.  I honestly do not think I am going to have to talk too much as again, they do not have any clearly defined language in any document that says I cannot do this.  I am preparred to take this to court and let a judge settle it.  Anyone want to start a Dano court cost fund?  The precident we set may help the rest of you all one day...lol

I do appreciate the ideas and opinions from everyone.  Keep them coming as I want a well laid out plan of attack on Oct. 2 for the meeting.

Dano
« Last Edit: September 25, 2006, 11:00:56 pm by Danoplex II » Logged




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