- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) - The Detroit Zoo said it is responding to concerns by nearby residents about the noise generated at its events.

The zoo’s Chief Operating Officer Gerry VanAcker told the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/17Yo3aY) that the zoo, for example, hired a sound consultant in 2010. He said the zoo changed the direction of speakers, moved stages and relocated its kickoff area for fun runs and walks.

“We will take whatever further steps are within reason,” VanAcker said.

The zoo is based in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak and most zoo property is in Huntington Woods - both residential communities. Attendance has been big in recent years, topping 1.3 million last year, just shy of the zoo’s 1997 record.

Last month, 26 homeowners signed petitions complaining of excessive noise. Amplified music at special events, early-morning announcements to visitors and the simulated prehistoric growls in the summer-long Dinosauria exhibits have drawn criticism.

“This summer, they’re planning 1,200 hours of amplified events over there,” said Aaron Retsil, 43, of Huntington Woods, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University who circulated petitions.

Royal Oak has a strict citywide noise ordinance driven by the city’s downtown bars. Huntington Woods suspended its noise limits for the zoo last summer, after the city planner said the limits were unenforceable.

The zoo plans a Feb. 12 town meeting.

Some residents also worry that a new passenger train planned by the zoo, to run along its north border that abuts neighborhoods, would add to the noise. “I didn’t move here to live next to Disney World,” said Ken Zino, 63, whose house in Huntington Woods is near where the train would run.

Zoo officials said the rubber-tired, electric-powered, 24-passenger tram set to debut in several years would be quiet.

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Online:

http://www.detroitzoo.org

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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