Noise ordinance review spurred by complaints about wrongly-zoned Carmel tavern 


The success of one of Carmel’s newest businesses has led the city council to take another look at its noise ordinance as the planning department works to correct an oversight that led to a tavern being permitted in a residentially zoned area. 

Since opening in August at 2nd Street SW and the Monon Greenway, New England-style tavern The GOAT has been popular with the late-night crowd. The restaurant is open until 3 a.m., later than any other business in the area. 

Neighbors have complained about loud noise from the tavern and its customers — who often spill onto the Monon Greenway — into the early morning hours. Police officers have the discretion to take action if they observe a violation of state law or city ordinance, but The GOAT owner Kevin Paul said he has not received any citations to this point. 

Paul, who also owns the Brockway Pub and Danny Boy Beer Works, said all of his establishments have gone through growing pains in their first six months as they find their fit in the community. He said he’s adjusted hours, added fencing and moved the Lyft and Uber pickup site away from heavily residential areas in an attempt to be a good neighbor. He said he was surprised to learn that some nearby residents still had noise complaints. 

“Not one single neighbor has reached out to me concerning any issues whatsoever,” Paul said. “I have dealt with the city on things that come to their desk, but unless the city has approached me with it I don’t even know it exists.” 

The tavern, which is mostly surrounded by single-family homes, apartments and townhomes, is on a site currently zoned for residential use. Until October 2019, the site was home to Bub’s Cafe, a quaint breakfast and lunch spot that opened in 2007 in what had previously been a home. The city granted Bub’s Cafe a variance to allow it to conduct business in a residential area, but only with the condition that the variance expire as soon as the site was no longer used as a cafe. 

Carmel’s Dept. of Community Services has filed a request to rezone the property and the Carmel Clay Historical Society’s Monon Depot Museum nextdoor from residential to mixed-use zoning. The Carmel Plan Commission was set to discuss the matter at its Nov. 17 meeting, but it has been tabled to the Dec. 15 meeting. 

Carmel Director of Community Services Mike Hollibaugh said the zoning problem is one that city officials should have caught at the time of permitting for The GOAT. He said Paul has been cooperating with the city in the rezoning effort, which he hopes will lead to an improved situation for all. 

“It is my hope that the issues with The GOAT will continue to be improved through the public process that accompanies our proposal to rezone the property,” Hollibaugh stated in an email. “The rezone process has a way of making things better by smoothing rough edges and sharp corners of a proposal with the result being something the owner, neighbors and the city can all appreciate. In this case, with the cart being before the horse, it’s certainly a challenge I’ve not experienced over many years with the city.” 

Hollibaugh did not respond to a question about what would happen to The GOAT if the rezone is not approved. 

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said the city has taken steps to address complaints by monitoring cameras in the area and that Carmel police have increased their patrols near the tavern.  

He described the issue as “a balance between normal noise and activity in a downtown area and excessive noise and problems late into the night.” 

“This location has been far busier than anticipated due to the success of the Monon Boulevard and Midtown area combined with stricter COVID restrictions in Marion County, which encouraged many to visit Carmel’s downtown,” he said. “People moved into this area because they wanted to live in an active vibrant neighborhood and knowing restaurants and stores and offices will draw people and some noise.” 

At its Nov. 16 meeting, the Carmel City Council introduced amendments to its noise ordinance that would prohibit machines that emit sounds, such as radios and loudspeakers, from being used between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. that can be heard from the property line. The council’s Finance, Utilities and Rules Committee is set to discuss the proposed amendments, but a meeting date has not been set as of press time. 

Paul said The GOAT’s success shows that it has filled a need in Carmel, as many people are no longer working traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. jobs. He is confident the tavern and its neighbors can work to accommodate each other. 

“(Carmel) is an incredible town, and all I want to do is help keep making it better and cooler,” Paul said.