White Oak Music Hall officials battle with residents in court

By Samantha Ptashkin - Reporter

HOUSTON - The immediate future of a near north side concert venue now rests in a judge’s hands, after a two day hearing regarding the White Oak Music Hall wrapped up in civil court on Friday.

The hearing was for a judge to decide whether or not to grant a temporary injunction to stop any outdoor concerts at the White Oak Music Hall between now and whenever a lawsuit filed against the venue goes to trial.  So far no trial date has been set.

Before closing arguments wrapped up Friday evening, attorneys representing White Oak Music Hall called several witnesses to the stand.  One of those witnesses included a woman who lives near the concert venue and testified the noise does not bother her and the concerts typically end no later than 11 p.m.  She also told the court neighborhood safety has improved since White Oak Music Hall opened last spring.  She said she sees more police presence in the area and less prostitution and drugs.

White Oak Music Hall attorneys also called upon an acoustic engineer who testified noise from the traffic on I-45, which is just west of the concert venue, measured louder than the noise from a concert.  “There will always be a difference in opinion from a city of 4-million people,” said Johnny So, a spokesperson for White Oak Music Hall.  “We've had nine outdoor lawn shows in the past 10 months and regardless of the result of today's hearing, we will continue to have all shows at the indoor venue.”

Last month a group of near north side residents filed a lawsuit against White Oak Music Hall, saying the noise and large crowds from the venue violate their property rights.  “There is no doubt there have been some improvements in the area but at what cost? Just because you decide to put a bar on a corner somewhere doesn’t give that bar license to harass the whole neighborhood,” said Cris Feldman, the attorney representing the residents.  He referred to the concert hall as a “lollapalooza mosh pit.”

On Thursday, several residents who live near White Oak Music Hall took the stand, describing how the concert venue has negatively impacted their lives since it opened last spring.

One resident, a former Navy pilot who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and tinnitus, said the noise level from the concerts keeps his young family up at night, which creates stress, then triggers his health issues.

Another resident said the noise and crowds from the concerts negatively impacts her autistic child, who is sensitive to loud noises.

In mid-December, a judge issued a temporary restraining order that prohibited the use of the venue’s outdoor stage, but that order has since expired.

In the meantime, the concert venue has already booked its first outdoor show of 2017, set for May 20.

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