“It was standing room only at Austin City Hall Wednesday night as southwest Austin residents packed into the Board of Adjustment meeting to discuss complaints regarding the noise coming from LifeAustin Church.
For the past few months, people living in the neighborhood say the sound from the church’s outdoor amphitheater at 8901 West State Highway 71 has been overwhelming. They say they’ve made 200 noise complaints to 311.
At the meeting, homeowners showed up with signs and a petition. They do not believe the venue’s use should be classified as Religious Assembly. But the church says they’ve followed all the rules, and that their permits were granted by the city and the amphitheater was built this year.
“Our ultimate goal would be to stop the music in this amphitheater,” says David Vandelinder who lives nearby. “There’s plenty of opportunity for them to conduct services including musical services indoors on the premises, without having to flood our neighborhoods with this noise several times a month.”
Vandelinder believes the noise is an invasion of property rights, and that the city made an incorrect decision in granting approval of the permit in the first place.
The church says they’ve gone to great lengths to mitigate sound and it would be a mistake to shut down the amphitheater.
“I wanted to support my church because I love the amphitheater, they have so many events, show Disney events, concerts, some of my favorite singers go there. It’s just really fun and I want the amphitheater to stay,” says LifeAustin Church member, 11-year-old Valentina Ballariano.
Another church member, Justin Aranda, believes the City of Austin did their homework, and the amphitheater deserves to stay.
“As far as I know, it’s operating under the guidelines of zoning, and I know they’ve been fair closing the venue down early and making sure it’s not too loud,” said Aranda. “And most importantly what’s going on down there, it’s Christian contemporary music for children and teenagers.”
The homeowners are hoping the board members will change the Land Use Determination for the church property and to change its classification as “religious assembly” to Rural Residential – Neighborhood Plan zoning district.
After hours of discussion, the board eventually postponed the ruling to February 8. The board has asked the parties to try to work out the disagreement in the meantime.”