Round Rock City Council affirms municipal court decision to revoke Long Branch Saloon amplified sound permit

Round Rock City Council affirmed the decision of its municipal court to revoke the Long Branch Saloon's amplified sound permit following violations of an ordinance. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock City Council affirmed the decision of its municipal court to revoke the Long Branch Saloon's amplified sound permit following violations of an ordinance. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)

Round Rock City Council affirmed the decision of its municipal court to revoke the Long Branch Saloon's amplified sound permit following violations of an ordinance. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)

Round Rock City Council considered an appeal for a local business that had its amplified sound permit for an outdoor venue revoked in September in accordance with a 2018 amendment to the city's sound ordinance to address music volume in the downtown area. Council ultimately affirmed the decision of the municipal court to revoke the establishment's amplified sound permit for a period of one year in a unanimous vote.

After three citations, Long Branch Saloon had its amplified sound permit revoked. After the case had been through municipal court, city staff told Community Impact Newspaper the council served as an appellate court to determine whether the amended ordinance had been applied correctly. The appeal was filed Sept. 30 and is the first appeal to occur under this amended ordinance.

Many community members, including Long Branch Saloon owners Roger and Minerva Villarreal, asked the council to consider leniency, stating that Long Branch has a long history of supporting the city and community. Minerva Villarreal said the absence of amplified music on her patio, the outdoor music venue at Long Branch Saloon, would directly affect her business and employees.

"If you take that away for a year, that's going to be hard on us," Villarreal said. "That's going to be hard on our employees. I wake up at night thinking about that."

Villarreal told the council she was not disputing the violations of the noise ordinance, but was concerned about the harshness of the penalty in revoking the permit for a year.


According to city officials, without this permit, Long Branch Saloon would still be able to feature live music outdoors, but not with speakers that would amplify the sound. Music may still be played indoors. Citations were issued in April, May and August.

Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks said Long Branch Saloon had received multiple warnings in the years since the ordinance was amended and disputed claims that RRPD officers are using decibel readers that would produce different results than the ones owned by downtown business owners.

"It's not anything that's personal," Banks said. "It's a violation of a city ordinance. I appreciate Minerva taking responsibility on the violations of the noise."

In 2018, the city of Round Rock's sound ordinance was amended to allow for decibel level readings to be taken at the property line at outdoor music venues. Under the amended ordinance, businesses downtown may not "operate sound equipment in excess of 80 decibels as measured at the property line of the business from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and from 10 a.m.-midnight on Friday and Saturday," and, "at all other times, permit holders shall not operate sound equipment in excess of 60 decibels as measured at the property line of the business." After three citations within a 12-month period, a business's amplified sound permit may be revoked for a period of up to a year. The amendment only applies to the mixed use-1 zoning district downtown, and those who apply for this permit sign a document indicating that they have read the ordinance and agree that the venue will comply with the ordinance.

Although multiple public commenters had suggested the ordinance be re-examined, Mayor Craig Morgan said no one had brought those concerns to the city before that night's meeting.

"We've had no one that I'm aware of approach us to re-examine and look at what can be done or what needs to be improved on the changes," Morgan said.

The owners of Long Branch Saloon declined to comment regarding the council's vote immediately following the meeting, but Community Impact Newspaper will update this story with any forthcoming statement.
By Brooke Sjoberg
Brooke Sjoberg is the Round Rock reporter for the Round Rock and Pflugerville/Hutto editions of Community Impact Newspaper. She worked for The Gonzales Inquirer, The Daily Texan and The Daily Dot among other publications before coming to Community Impact. Brooke is from Seguin, TX and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. Her last name is pronounced Show-burg.


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