White Oak Music Hall legal battle continues

HOUSTON – The legal battle surrounding a controversial near northside concert venue continues this week as attorneys representing a group of residents who live near the venue, seek to put an end to its operations.

A hearing in Harris County civil court began Thursday morning, in which a judge must decide whether or not to grant a temporary injunction to stop all concerts at the White Oak Music Hall, until the end of a trial regarding a lawsuit filed by a group of residents who say the venue creates too much noise.

A start date for the trial has not yet been set.

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.

“The whole neighborhood is experiencing sleepless nights and there are children with special needs who are being traumatized by this situation, who literally go into meltdown mode,” said Chris Feldman, the attorney representing the near north side residents.

Feldman announced the lawsuit on behalf of the residents last month.

It came after the city of Houston gave the green light to White Oak Music Hall to erect a permanent outdoor stage, despite months of complaints from neighbors who say the loud noise traumatizes children and lowers property values.

“Our house was built in the 1920s, it was a very quiet, little idyllic neighborhood, that has changed dramatically since the music hall opened,” said Brett Clanton, who lives three blocks away from the concert venue.

Late Thursday, the courtroom also listened to, and watched, body camera video from a Houston police officer who was responding to a noise complaint at a home near White Oak Music Hall, on the night of a concert.

In the video you can hear the music playing loudly.

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.

Venue representatives have said they are working with the city and will continue to work with the city to make sure the operation is in compliance with all regulations.

Johnny So, a White Oak Music Hall spokesperson, told members of the media on Thursday: “White Oak Music Hall is a project supported by a variety of residents, musicians and music fans. Today is just a preliminary hearing and we're as eager as anybody else to go to a full trial as soon as possible.”

The hearing for the temporary injunction continues Friday at 9 a.m.