Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Rock Sports Complex Noise a Puzzle

Many neighbor complaints of noise, but data collected by City of Franklin too technical for county to analyze.

By - Dec 22nd, 2020 10:10 am

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Sulfur at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Sulfur at English Wikipedia (GFDL) or (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee County Parks is having trouble studying noise at a sports complex in Franklin that has plagued neighbors for years.

The Rock Sports Complex and Ballpark Commons sits on land at 7900 Crystal Ridge Rd. that was sold to the developers, ROC Ventures, in 2017 by Milwaukee County, and a sliver of the site is still owned by the county and leased to the developers.

For years, neighbors have complained of excessive noise coming from the complex. Given the original agreement between the county and the developers, this never should have been an issue.

The county parks department has now been charged with performing a sound study. As parks worked to find someone to perform the study, it looked at available sound data from measurements taken by the City of Franklin, but has been unable to analyze the data “due to both the large volume of data and lack of specific technical expertise,” according to a report from the department.

Until recently the City of Franklin has shrugged off residents complaints about noise because their development agreement was written in a way that nearly ensures noise violations can’t be enforced.

This latest report from the county indicates that what data exists on the noise at the complex is so difficult to analyze it requires specialized professional expertise. This raises the question, if the county can’t analyze the data to determine the sound coming from the complex, how can Franklin?

In the original agreement between the county and ROC Ventures for the land, it was stipulated that a comprehensive sound study would be undertaken by the developers. But the Franklin Common Council later voted against a comprehensive sound study in the city’s development agreement, overruling advice from the Franklin planning staff at the time.

Planning staff warned that the proposal from the developer was woefully inadequate in addressing potential sound pollution concerns and recommended a 55 decibel limit for sound at the site. The council ultimately ignored this advice and approved the deal without a sound study and set the sound limit at 79 decibels. Moreover the sound must exceed that level for 30 minutes to be prohibited.

The consequence of this has been that citizens living around the Rock Sports Complex have complained for years that they are plagued by incredibly loud noise from the site.

Their complaints, however, haven’t led to any sanctions against the complex. Reports from devices measuring sound at the site have shown it exceeds the 79 decibel level, but never for 30 straight minutes.

The data Franklin has provided the county is so “robust” and “technical” that the parks department hasn’t been able to make heads or tails of it. The department has begun looking for an outside consultant, a private business to help analyze the data.

Supervisor John Weishan, Jr., who was an opponent of the original land sale, sponsored the resolution that directed parks to perform the sound study. He said that when the original deal was going through the county, assurances were given by parks and the administration of former County Executive Chris Abele that issues like sound pollution would be mitigated.

“And yet here I have a report that says we don’t have anybody in the department that is able to make sense out of the data that we’ve been given,” Weishan said at a meeting of the board’s Audit Committee.

Former Supervisor Steve Taylor served on the board and as a Franklin alderman as the Rock Sports Complex and Ball Park Commons developments went before both governmental bodies for key approvals. He has professed in a blog post that “if I wasn’t in office, the Ballpark Commons project would not happen.”

Taylor now works as the executive director of the ROC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the development company ROC Ventures.

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Categories: MKE County

2 thoughts on “MKE County: Rock Sports Complex Noise a Puzzle”

  1. Mingus says:

    The citizens of Franklin were played by the company that runs the complex. The complex, Ballpark Commons, is a Franklin TIF district which means taxpayer money went into the facility. The management does not take the concerns of the residents seriously.

  2. John Heinen says:

    This is not rocket science, L&G. When has “being a good neighbor” not made economic sense as well? If it’s after midnight and your neighbor’s lights are out, you turn down the volume, pick a softer CD, or go to bed. Right? If a neighbor still complains, you disconnect that speaker or turn it in a different direction (and then check with your neighbor to make sure you have solved the problem). If you’re using ear plugs in your home or workplace, no matter the time of day, then the boss needs to deliver a less than gentle smack on your noggin and remind you that this is Wisconsin- where we watch out for one another and are kind to our neighbors.

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