Ethnic camp target of noise complaints

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By Christopher Behnan • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Some Genoa Township residents are complaining noise from an annual ethnic music festival is increasing every year and intruding on their normally quiet, rural lifestyles.

The third annual Chaldean Music Festival was held at Camp Chaldean, 1391 Kellogg Road in Genoa Township, on Aug. 22-23. The festival included live performances of Chaldean, Iraqi and English-language music, as well as a disc jockey.
Kellogg Road resident Charles Saliba, who lives within a half-mile of the camp, said a decibel reader recorded 80 decibels on his property during the music festival.
Saliba said his objection is not to the type of music being played, just strictly the volume. He said he was dismissed by festival-goers who told him to get used to the noise.
“That was what they said to us, and it’s, like, ‘Nuh-uh, we aren’t going to live with that. I wouldn’t care if it was rock ‘n’ roll or whatever type of music it was,” he said.
“If this starts happening every weekend, we’re not going to have a leg to stand on,” Saliba added.
Several residents near the camp are expected to make their voices heard on the issue at Tuesday’s Genoa Township Board of Trustees meeting.
The township ordinance states permitted noise for any land use can’t be greater than the normal level of traffic noise in the area.
Camp spokesman Robert Kakos said the festival was well within that guideline, and that the camp hired an engineering team that took decibel readings around the camp’s perimeter.
Kakos said the camp conducted the testing to avoid similar noise complaints from last year’s music festival, and that noise to neighbors ranged from “a lawn mower to a hair dryer.”
“That was a concern that was brought to our attention last year, so we put a lot of emphasis in making sure that wasn’t going to happen,” he said.
The event took place in the center of the camp, which is surrounded by a perimeter of 5-10 acres of trees and foliage, he added.
Kakos said the Michigan State Police — which fielded several complaints from residents — and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department were kept abreast of event details.
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Saliba said festival noise has only worsened every year.

He said he could hear an announcer word for word during a raffle giveaway.
“You could sit up at Grand River and hear every word they were saying,” Saliba said.
Township Supervisor Gary McCririe said other factors, including the camp’s proximity to Euler Lake, intensify sound coming from the grounds. While several nearby residents complained to police, noise from this year’s festival paled to last year’s, McCririe said.
This year’s festival was organized far better than last year’s event, which drew more people than expected by organizers, he added.
Regardless, the township will work with the camp to make sound levels more acceptable to neighbors for next summer’s music festival. McCririe visited the area Sunday to hear for himself.
“We will be working with them on that to mitigate it and to bring it more in line with what we expect with them. It was far better than it was last year,” McCririe said.
“It was audible off of their site, and we do need to do some work to bring the noise level down,” however, he added.
Festival noise aside, the camp is well-accepted in the community, he added.
Around the time of the festival, several traffic signs, as well as two directing people to the camp, were defaced with racially derogatory graffiti directed at Chaldeans and Jews, Kakos said.
Kakos said he doesn’t believe the defaced signs were related to the noise complaints, and that the camp has had a positive working relationship with its neighbors in recent years.
Nevertheless, the camp director took photos of the signs and made township officials aware of the issue.
“I think it was teenagers acting foolish. It’s no way reflective of the area,” Kakos said.
Both Saliba and McCririe said they were unaware of camp signs being defaced.
The Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Metro Detroit, based in Southfield, owns the camp, which hosts children with special needs, Bible study, school and other groups and public events.
Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Christopher Behnan at (517) 548-7108 or at cbehnan@gannett.com.

Saliba said festival noise has only worsened every year.

He said he could hear an announcer word for word during a raffle giveaway.
“You could sit up at Grand River and hear every word they were saying,” Saliba said.
Township Supervisor Gary McCririe said other factors, including the camp’s proximity to Euler Lake, intensify sound coming from the grounds. While several nearby residents complained to police, noise from this year’s festival paled to last year’s, McCririe said.
This year’s festival was organized far better than last year’s event, which drew more people than expected by organizers, he added.
Regardless, the township will work with the camp to make sound levels more acceptable to neighbors for next summer’s music festival. McCririe visited the area Sunday to hear for himself.
“We will be working with them on that to mitigate it and to bring it more in line with what we expect with them. It was far better than it was last year,” McCririe said.
“It was audible off of their site, and we do need to do some work to bring the noise level down,” however, he added.
Festival noise aside, the camp is well-accepted in the community, he added.
Around the time of the festival, several traffic signs, as well as two directing people to the camp, were defaced with racially derogatory graffiti directed at Chaldeans and Jews, Kakos said.
Kakos said he doesn’t believe the defaced signs were related to the noise complaints, and that the camp has had a positive working relationship with its neighbors in recent years.
Nevertheless, the camp director took photos of the signs and made township officials aware of the issue.
“I think it was teenagers acting foolish. It’s no way reflective of the area,” Kakos said.
Both Saliba and McCririe said they were unaware of camp signs being defaced.
The Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Metro Detroit, based in Southfield, owns the camp, which hosts children with special needs, Bible study, school and other groups and public events.

http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20090903/NEWS01/909030310