No noise ordinance for Polk County

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Polk County will not enact a noise ordinance anytime soon after commissioners said they are not in favor of countywide restrictions.

Commissioners met Monday, July 8 and heard from residents who urged the county to enact a noise ordinance with stories of fear from excessive gunshots from one community and problems selling property because of a dirt track from another.

Commissioners said they sympathized particularly with Silver Creek community residents. They directed interim county manager Marche Pittman to speak with a magistrate and research any laws that could help residents of the community.

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The majority of commissioners made it clear they are not in favor of a noise ordinance, especially countywide, which would have to be done because Silver Creek is located in an unzoned area.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson, who placed the item on the agenda asked commissioner chair Michael Gage if he doesn’t care for a noise ordinance at all.

Gage responded, “No, I don’t.”

Gage said in looking at Henderson County’s noise ordinance, which was used as an example, it’s “super vague,” and “very scary.”

Gage said Henderson County’s ordinance says, “unreasonably loud and disturbing noise.”

“How do you define that?” Gage asked. “To me this is a scary ordinance because it’s so vague.”

He questioned how the county could enforce such an ordinance and said if his kids are playing outside with their friends that could be a violation.

Silver Creek residents who attended the meeting indicated they would be in favor of being zoned in order to take care of the problems, but commissioners said they would only zone the area if 100 percent of residents want to be zoned.

Marilyn McMinn McCredie said dogs will bark, it’s the nature of the beast and it may also be the nature of the beast of the redneck to fire ammunition. She said she has a neighbor who has limitless amounts of ammunition and celebrated July 4 for four days and nights. She said a few weeks ago she had a problem with her satellite dish and it took her 15 to 20 minutes to convince the service man that the gunshots were harmless.

“It’s an embarrassment,” McCredie said. “You do not feel safe.”

Julie Hart, who was speaking on behalf of Ronald Dill, who first brought the request for a noise ordinance to the Polk County Planning Board, said many of the Silver Creek residents need sleep because they are constantly being disturbed with loud noise, revving motors and loud arguments. She spoke of 939 noise complaints in the county since 1999, according to the Polk County Communications Department.

Hart said there’s nothing law enforcement can do without a noise ordinance. Officers ask people to stop, but they refuse to cooperate, Hart said.

She also spoke of property values, saying it would be difficult to get a fair price if a buyer becomes aware of the noise.

Commissioner Tom Pack said of the 939 noise complaints, only 632 were within the county’s jurisdiction; the rest were in city limits. Of those 632, Pack said, 60 were related to the Silver Creek community.

Silver Creek neighborhood secretary Rita Holden said she’d like to tell commissioners about some of the things happening in her community that she doesn’t imagine commissioners have ever had to deal with; at least she hopes not.

“Things like being awakened at 1 in the morning to the sound of gun fire, knowing your child is sleeping in the next room, and you are praying that whoever is shooting off their weapons in the dark is not drunk and are being safe about it,” Holden said.