Northside residents ask city for help with White Oak Music Hall

People living near the White Oak Music Hall say the concert venue that holds thousands of people should have never been built in a residential area.

HOUSTON - Some people living in Houston's Northside say they're sick and tired of losing sleep and feeling their homes shake from the loud music and thumping bass at the White Oak Music Hall.

On Wednesday, they went to Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City Council demanding they crack down on the venue, which hosts indoor and outdoor concerts.

The battle has been going on for months, not only in council chambers, but also in the courtroom. A restraining order granted by a judge in December has stopped any outdoor concerts.

Now neighbors are asking the city the hold the owners accountable for what they believe is the venue not keeping their end of the bargain.

"I am paying for my own misery,” said resident Kerry Whitehead during the public comment section of Wednesday’s Houston City Council meeting. “We’re here week after week.”

Whitehead and resident Jeff Treviño aired their concerns about White Oak Music Hall to the mayor and the City Councill, saying an outdoor, amplified concert venue holding thousands of people never should have been built in a residential neighborhood.

"You agreed to an outdoor theater, not a five acre mosh pit in my backyard,” said Whitehead.

Residents argue the developer isn't keeping their end of the bargain in their $1.1 million incentive deal with the city, passed by City Council unanimously in December 2015.

But the developers pushed back.

Will Garwood, one of the developers, said he and others behind the venue are “broadly supported by the neighborhood”, adding that the outdoor stage hosted nine concerts in 2016, most of which end by 11 p.m.

"That is 18 hours of music over a whole year,” said Garwood. “So when they go out to the media and say, ‘The babies aren't sleeping every night,’ there were only 9 shows on the outdoor lawn."

Mayor Sylvester Turner likened the dispute between the residents and venue to two neighbors living side by side and urged the two sides to continue talking to find common ground.

"I'm gonna encourage you and your business associates to go out and meet with them and try to reach a meeting of the minds,” said Mayor Turner.

Turner, who took office in January 2016, after the economic incentive agreement passed, says because Houston has no zoning, so the venue can legally set up shop anywhere.

However, on Wednesday, Turner asked City Attorney Ron Lewis to take another look at all of the agreements to make sure everyone is following the rules.

"It's not costing us to take a look, even if it's a second or third look,” said Turner, who wants the review to happen within the next month.

On the legal side of the battle, the next hearing before a judge will happen January 12.


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