PIEDMONT -- Charles Lee, who lives on the 300 block of Bonita Avenue, said music emanating from the back patio area of the Piedmont Center for the Arts on Magnolia Avenue is disturbing his peace -- and that of his family.
During a Jan. 24 nighttime rehearsal for the Community Women's Orchestra's Chamber Concert Soirée this past Sunday, Lee requested that the trio practicing on the center's back patio stop playing. The patio is just a few feet from Lee's bedroom windows. When they didn't stop, he called police.
"Mr. Lee said that if we went ahead with Sunday's concert, he would blast loud music to drown us out," said orchestra conductor Kathleen McGuire.
Lee and his family live on a secondary home on the Bonita Avenue property while the main house is being remodeled. The secondary home is just two feet from the center's back patio.
"I'm asking that they close their windows and doors and have the music inside," said Lee, who has two young children. "My family has the right to a quiet place to live."
He said he wants an amicable solution to the dispute that's been going on since the center opened a year ago.
"I've been trying to work with the city but have got zero results," Lee said. "It's a disappointing and frustrating situation."
PCA board members are also frustrated.
"The Piedmont Center for the Arts is highly used," said PCA board President Nancy Lehrkind, a Grubb Co. Realtor, who said it's very distressing to have a neighbor who's unhappy. "Ten thousand five hundred people have enjoyed the facility since it opened in August 2011; Mr. Lee must have had talks with the city and his Realtor before purchasing his house; it was clear that he was moving in next door to the Performing Arts Center."
Minutes before the soiree was due to start at 4 p.m. Sunday, Lee made good on his promise to blast loud music from his residence -- what he described as "Brazilian jazz." McGuire said the music that was planned for the back patio at Sunday's soiree consisted only of trios and quartets in brief performances.
"A Scott Joplin piece is as raucous as it's going to get," said McGuire, adding that the annual soiree is their biggest fundraiser. "We're a 28-year-old organization just trying to bring beautiful music to the city."
As 4 p.m. approached, Officer John Lagios from the Piedmont Police Department arrived on the scene and talked to Lee and PCA board members and was able to mediate a solution -- at least for the day.
"Mr. Lee agreed to turn down his music and the orchestra agreed to bring the music inside and shut the door," Lagios said. "They are going to approach the city and discuss the issue."
City Administrator Geoff Grote said he's talked to Lee and members of the PCA in the past to try to resolve problems. The city owns the building that houses PCA and leases it to the organization.
"As the landlord, we want things to be compatible with the next-door neighbor," said Grote, who has asked PCA to keep musical performances indoors.
He said that since PCA installed air conditioning, the problem with opening doors and windows in warm weather has been resolved, thereby keeping noise inside.
"I think the remaining issue is use of the patio for music," said Grote, who plans to meet again with all parties involved.
McGuire said she was disappointed not to be able to use the outdoor patio for her orchestra's performance.
"It's such a waste of the beautiful weather and location," McGuire said. "But we don't want to rock the boat; we're just visitors here."
Lee said he just wants to "mutually coexist" with the PCA.
"We love the arts," Lee said. "We support the center. We just want them to keep the music inside."