Border war: St. Paul homeowner battles Taco Bell

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St. Paul homeowners Kristine and Mark Vesley say they could put up with a certain amount of noise from their neighbor, the Taco Bell on Snelling Avenue.

They live with the constant flow of cars pulling up to the drive-through and the loud orders made well into the night: Dorito-shell tacos, chalupas, burritos.

But mornings were sacred – up until March. That's when the restaurant pushed its opening time from 10 a.m. to 7 a.m. when it introduced a new breakfast menu. Now the couple is at war with the fast-food outlet, the Pioneer Press reports.

"We did not sign up to hear a Taco Bell drive-through all night and again every morning at 7 a.m.," Kristine Vesley said Monday at a hearing at St. Paul City Hall this week, the newspaper reports.

The couple went to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, which rejected its plea, and now the Vesleys have 10 days to decide if they will appeal further to the City Council, the Pioneer Press reports. City officials have noted that hours-of-service changes for that location don't require city approval, the newspaper notes.

It could be worse. Homeowners who live in mixed-use zones routinely make noise complaints in cities coast to coast. A few ongoing racket wrangles:

– Houston residents are up in arms about noise on Dixie Drive, where nightclubs draw motorcycle riders revving their engines into the wee hours of the morning.

– Neighbors are going after the new Tai Wu Restaurant in Millbrae, California, for noise – and for the smell of Chinese food blown into their homes by loud kitchen fans.

– And in Sarasota, Florida, neighbors are looking for ways to drown out the noise at Bob's Boathouse restaurant, where musician jam sessions run late into the evening next to docile waters at the dockside eatery.

A leading expert on noise, Arline L. Bronzaft, last fall told the New York Times that noise pollution can ultimately take a toll on people, even though eventually, many city dwellers ultimately shrug and say they have just grown accustomed to the din. "So when you hear someone say, ‘I’m dealing with it,’ I say, ‘Yes, but at what cost?’ ”

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