Homeowners’ complaints futile

Whine, whine, whine is the word of the day coming from local residents who live in the Garden Hill neighborhood, and although I sympathize with their complaints, they are clearly speaking out of turn.

It is my belief that when you move into a neighborhood, you take responsibility for knowing the pre-existing conditions of the neighborhood and therefore lose your right to complain about problems unless there is a significant change in the conditions.

That is to say, if you live in a quiet neighborhood 50 miles from a major international airport and then one moves in, you have a right to complain. But if you move into a neighborhood and a major international airport is only five miles from your doorstep, you lose your right to complain.

And that is the issue between the Garden Hill Neighborhood Association membership and the hundreds of student renters who live in the neighborhood.

According to a Saturday Herald-Times article, “Neighborhood group seeking peace, quiet,” the neighborhood bounded by 17th Street on the north, 14th Street on the south, Walnut Street to the west, and Indiana Street on the east, has a sum total of 20 owner-occupied homes and more than 100 rental addresses (many with multiple rental units). In other words, homeowners are outnumbered by a significant margin.

Yet these homeowners are whining about party noise, including one local resident who is going so far as to remodel a room with thick layers of insulation and ear plugs with rifle-range ear protection and pillows so that he can sleep. I really do sympathize, but the whiners moved into the neighborhood knowing that IU was right next door.

Maybe they bought their houses 15 years ago when there were fewer renters, but then again my parents bought their house in Denver, five miles from an international airport before the advent of large jumbo jets and planes landing every few minutes, and they never complained: it was a fact of life.

My parents bought their house knowing about the airport nearby and they never once complained about the jumbo jets screaming over the house, despite the fact that you could hear the noise from jets even at 1 a.m., or the fact that the noise got progressively worse as the years went by.

That’s not to say that I do not sympathize with the homeowners. I do not doubt that many of today’s student renters are noisier and more obnoxious than student renters of years past. The party noise levels probably have been rising since the ‘50s, although I suspect the bulk of the decibel increase came in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The probable truth of the matter is that some of the homeowner’s reported increase during the past 15 years (since 1984) is probably more reflective of the fact that they have less tolerance for noise today than they did when they moved in. Most people in their twenties are far more willing to withstand the rattling windows than most people in their forties.

That’s not to say, though, that the student renters who are causing problems don’t need to be stopped. I admire the Garden Hill Neighborhood Association for trying, but they should realize that they made the choice to live where they live.

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