A Houston judge on Friday ordered White Oak Music Hall to temporarily halt outdoor shows and construction of a permanent outdoor stage, in response to a lawsuit from neighbors concerned about noise.
District Judge Michael Gomez approved a temporary restraining order barring the venue from holding outdoor concerts until a hearing on January 12.
As we reported Thursday, the cadre of New Northside residents believe White Oak's loud outdoor concerts are a nuisance, and the city should never have approved the project in the first place.
"Tonight, hundreds of Houston families can finally enjoy the privacy of their own homes, and children can get a full night's sleep," the neighbors' attorney, Cris Feldman, proclaimed in a statement. "This constant loud music is an assault, and we call on the Mayor to stop the construction of a permanent stage for the sake of the children."
It is unclear, however, how much of a victory neighbors had won. An outdoor show already scheduled for December 17 will go on as planned, and White Oak has no other outdoor concerts scheduled through the January 12 hearing.
The music complex, which includes two indoor stages in addition to an expansive lawn for outdoor shows, was welcomed by Houston's music fans as a much-needed addition to the city's entertainment scene when it opened this year.
But the debut has not been without controversy. First, the music venue intended to keep applying for temporary outdoor stage permits instead of submitting to the more rigorous vetting process for a permanent stage. Mayor Sylvester Turner got wise to the scheme and barred city planners from approving more temporary permits.
Then, White Oak did itself no favors with already skeptical neighbors when it began building a permanent outdoor stage before city planners had permitted the project.
So a lawsuit, it seems, was the inevitable next step in the battle between neighbors and the venue.
In a statement Friday, the music hall said it would comply with the judge's order but maintains that White Oak concerts do not violate Houston's sound ordinance.
"Efforts to resolve this issue with the residents that have chosen to sue the venue will continue, but in the meantime, we look forward to hosting all our other shows and events scheduled for the indoor venues at White Oak Music Hall," the statement read, in part.
Or, put another way: We'll see you in court.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.