War At The Grocery Store

A Spokane, Wash., “community hub” for food, wine and art called Rocket Market is in the middle of a battle over its outdoor, acoustic concerts that perturbed neighbors have said drove them to seek psychological treatment.

– Rocket Market concert

The neighbors claim the free Summer Outdoor Concert Series at Rocket Market has caused emotional and psychological distress. They have filed suit.

According to the gas station owners, the NIMBYs have not only complained to the police and fire departments and the Liquor Control Board but even called Child Protective Services to complain too many kids were running around unattended.

“They call the police every night, every single night, that we do music,” co-owner Alan Shepherd told the Spokesman-Review. “They’ve called every agency to get it to stop.”

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs says he is trying to protect his clients from corporate greed, according to KXLY-TV.

Rocket Market has outdoor concerts for most of the summer. Seven neighbors say the noise is unbearable and their only course is to sue Shepherd. Meanwhile, Shepherd says the music is so quiet that “some customers have complained they can’t hear the singer.” Plaintiffs say the noise level from these shows has forced them to seek psychological treatment as well as make changes to their homes to block out the noise.

The Spokane city noise ordinance says a person can’t play music louder than 55 decibels at 100 feet and plaintiffs claim it’s above that limit, KXLY reported.

Shepherd told the station they’ve changed the concerts from three nights to two, and even cut back the hours. He says the music isn’t amplified and someone on staff makes sure no one takes alcohol outside the beer garden. Police said that officers from the civil enforcement unit have been to the concert series a number of times to monitor the shows and haven’t found any issues. Other neighbors who live a couple homes away said they can’t even hear the music.

One neighbor, Kate Rau, set up a GoFundMe account to help cover Rocket Market’s legal costs and keep the concert series going. The account has raised $11,655 as of March 7.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages, the cost of attorney fees and ask that Rocket Market no longer be allowed to host concerts that interfere with their ability to enjoy their property.

The Spokesman-Review also reported March 3 that plaintiffs’ attorney Jed Barden sent Rau a cease and desist letter accusing her of making defamatory statements about the plaintiffs on the fundraising page.

He is demanding she shut down the page within 48 hours and refund the money. Rau isn’t about to do that.

“I absolutely did nothing wrong,” she told the paper “The part that I find most offensive is that I never received a copy of the cease and desist letter but he sent it to all the media. I think he is, quite frankly, trying to intimidate me.”

Rau noted that she didn’t name the seven people who filed the lawsuit, even though the lawsuit is a public document and their names have been included in media reports.

“Everybody named them but me,” she said. “That’s the irony.”