Living beside Wal-Mart evokes anger or adaptation
November 4, 2005
A persistent hum emanating from the Wal-Mart on East College Parkway has kept Adriane and John Whaley from having a good night’s sleep since the supercenter opened more than a week ago.
“It sounds like AAAHHHHH,” said John Whaley, who has lived in Carson City for two years. “It’s just a roar, 24-7, it never shuts off. I’ve talked to the (Wal-Mart) construction manager and he absolutely refused to do anything about it.”
Their home on Ridgefield Drive overlooks the back of the store and its bank of refrigeration units.
Wal-Mart won’t do anything about the noise because the building meets code.
“In regards to the (refrigerator units) noise level, I don’t think there’s anything we can do with that issue,” said Carson City Wal-Mart Store Manager Scott Yoder. “The refrigerator units are within the city guidelines for our project.”
Carson City doesn’t have a noise ordinance to deal with this type of situation.
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“The building does meet code and that’s the bottom line,” said Walt Sullivan, Carson City director of planning and community development.
So the Whaleys must live with the noise. They long for days when the wind is strong enough, such as on Friday, to deflect the noise north, away from their three-bedroom home which sits atop a slight hill. On windy days the sound is muffled, and only really obvious if you know it’s there.
The Whaleys know it’s there. Before John Whaley goes to bed he puts on noise-eliminating headphones.
“I’m all in favor of Wal-Mart,” he said. “They make jobs and are affordable. There’s just the fact that we can’t get any sleep and I’m sitting on a half-million dollar house that nobody would move into now.”
The buffer wall ends about three houses east of the Whaley home. The homes on the far west end of the street are on a hill, which would make the wall useless.
A small truck started up in the back of the Wal-Mart near the home and Whaley sighed. That’s another noise they contend with. City officials say the higher elevation of these homes also works as a noise buffer.
Most residents on the street are behind the buffer wall, such as Lisa Figueroa. After the store opened Oct. 26 Figueroa said the noise wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.
“It’s close shopping,” Figueroa said. While walking up to her home a loud crashing sound came from behind the buffer wall. “But if that happens late I’m not going to like it.”
The store manager said vendors are not allowed to deliver between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., though they had problems with trucks lining up to be first in the morning and idling. Yoder said that problem has been addressed.
“We want to be good neighbors,” he said. “We’ll do what we can to mitigate the situation if we can.”
Adriane Whaley said she feels dead tired and is starting to get mad about the 61Ú2 hours of sleep “the city was merciful enough to get for us.”
The city’s director of planning and community development said Wal-Mart is set back 100 feet from its property line and it will plant 15- to 25-foot trees as a buffer.
Yoder said Wal-Mart will start grading next week on a 12-foot wide path between the store and Ridgefield Drive homes. This pathway will be open at Table Rock Drive so that residents can walk or bike to the shopping center.
Betty and Norman Albertsen’s home is on the corner of Table Rock and Ridgefield drives. Their only worry is that the area behind Wal-Mart won’t be maintained. They don’t hear noise because the buffer wall comes almost all the way to the roof of their home. There is a tall light on the other side of that wall.
“I get some light in my bedroom, but I don’t mind it,” said Betty Albertsen.
Wal-Mart began installing light shields Friday, Yoder said.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.