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Residence hall construction continues into early hours, angers students

Loud construction into the early hours of Wednesday morning at the new residence hall site in the Hillside area of campus angered several students who said it disrupted their sleep.

After hearing the noise outside her Hillside apartment, sophomore Kaitlin Barnett used an app to measure the volume of the construction. It came in at 80-90 decibels.

“I came back to my apartment around 10:45 p.m. and it was happening almost until 1 a.m.,” Barnett said. “I was in bed by midnight and trying to sleep when the construction was happening.”

Belmont acknowledged the construction, but said it was an anomaly – a result of being behind schedule due to rain.

The early-morning construction, however, may have been more than just an inconvenience to students. It may have been illegal.

Metro Government ofNashville Code 16.44.030 says it is unlawful for construction sound to exceed 70 decibels when it is “located within or adjoining a residential zone district” and occurs between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m..

The Belmont construction site is located in a zone designated“RM20,”a designation for “multi-family” residences that are “intended for single-family, duplex, and multi-family dwellings at a density of 20 dwelling units per acre.”

This means the construction site is currently in a residential zone and would have to abide by that code, unless the construction company submitted an application to the Codes Administration director or received a permit beforehand.

The Vision reached out to the Director of Codes Administration Terrence Cobb and Chief Building Inspector Byron Hall to see if an application had been filed, but neither responded.

The construction Wednesday morning was a result of weather delays in installing two cranes on the construction site, said Belmont Communications Specialist Hope Buckner.

“That work is now complete. It is not our intent for this to happen again,” Buckner said. “But if another situation like this arises, we will make those impacted aware.”

Some students, however, are still unsatisfied.

“I understand that they still have to stay somewhat on track, but stuff like rain is going to happen and ultimately students still need sleep,” said sophomore Alex Rodgers, who was disturbed by the noise and the bright lights illuminating the site.

“The lights were still on when I went to bed around 1 a.m. and that’s insanely late for anybody to be building anything.”

Rodgers, who lives in a room in Dickens “right next to the construction site,” said he is considering taking his concerns to the Provost.

“I realized that we probably signed something for housing at the beginning of the year that prevents us from fighting to get our housing for this semester discounted,” Rodgers said. “But there is a severe lack of communication that could be fixed.”

Rodgers said he was previously planning on staying on campus over the summer and moving off in the fall, but the construction has changed his plans.

“I’m moving off campus as soon as this semester ends,” he said.

Barnett said she will stay on campus next year, but will try living further away from the construction.

“If I do stay on campus, I would definitely try to be in lower Hillside just to be away from the noise somewhat.”

The complaints aimed at the construction are nothing new.

In February,Eastwood Avenue residents complained to Belmont over the new Dickens Hall access road.

In January, students complained oftrash piling up in the Dickens lobby, after the construction site quarantined the Dickens dumpster area.

“I just want Belmont or anyone to actually respond to our concerns,” Barnett said. “I just feel like they do not care and do not listen to us.”

Update: March 23, 2017, 9:51 p.m.

Dickens Hall residents received an email from Vice President for Finance and Operations Steve Lasley explaining why construction continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

R.C. Mathews, the construction company heading up the new Belmont residence hall project, decided to work overtime after rain significantly delayed its progress on installing two new cranes on the construction site.

However, the company did not consult with Belmont before making this decision.

“I have spoken personally with the president of the construction firm and it is not the company’s intention for this situation—or the inconveniences it caused—to happen again,” Lasley’s email stated. “However, I’ve also asked them to please keep Belmont’s Communications and Residence Life offices informed of any changes to the project or schedule that may impact our residents in the future so that we can communicate that to you.”

R.C. Mathews was reached out to for comment during the Vision’s initial investigation.

“Oh, so sorry,” said Eba Hobbs, an employee at R.C. Mathews. “I will check this as soon as I get into the office this morning.”

R.C. Mathews did not respond further.

Lasley ensured Dickens residents the situation would not happen again.

“I hope this information is helpful, and I apologize to those who were impacted,” he said.

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