Saluda measuring noise around city following noise complaints

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SALUDA – The City of Saluda is in the process of measuring noise with a meter throughout the city after complaints about excessive noise were posed to city council last year.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met May 8 and heard from city manager Jon Cannon who detailed decibel readings recently.

Cannon said there were significant discussions about noise on Main Street last year and he wanted to collect data, both in the off-season and busy season. Most of the complaints came from noise at downtown bars and restaurants that have music in the spring and summer.

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Cannon said starting as early as February, employees have taken readings, including over 100 readings from the police department with a decibel meter.

At the interstate, readings ranged from 90-95 decibels, according to Cannon.

The downtown readings were in the upper 70s and occasional mid-to-low 80s.

Cannon said for reference, in the meeting room last week the decibels were 65-70 decibels from people talking. In the city hall offices the decibels also range from 65-70. In a factory where hearing protection is required it’s 80 decibels or over, Cannon said.

Commissioner Carolyn Ashburn asked specifics about the I-26 data, asking where exactly the measurements are taken. Police chief Charles Conner said most of the readings were done at the Triangle Stop, which registered about 90 decibels. Standing on the side of the interstate, Conner said readings can reach up to 120 decibels.

Ashburn asked where exactly they were standing when taking measurements near the Brew Pub.

Conner said some were standing at the front door, some were at the top of Henderson Street and some were in the back alley.

Other locations, Cannon said, were from directly behind the police department, the fire pit at the bar and above the bar. Cannon said readings at Autumn Care were 51 decibels and behind the police department were 68 decibels.

Cannon said this year the city has received two complaints for noise.

In November 2016, the city received numerous complaints because of noise, with some residents asking commissioners to rewrite its current noise ordinance.

The current noise ordinance said “particularly” between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., with Cannon saying at the time he takes that to mean those hours are the most closely monitored but the ordinance could also mean any time of the day.

Currently, Cannon said if a call comes in for a noise complaint and the noise is bothering anyone on any level, the city has the authority to enforce the ordinance. Employees said last year the ordinance is hard to enforce because it does not include decibels.

Commissioner Mark Oxtoby volunteered the use of his personal decibel meter for the city to use to collect data last year.

Even though the city had complaints over noise, particularly with bands, some business owners said last year that Saluda has a rich history of music and the ordinance was written in 2004 and is rather strict.

The city plans to continue collecting data as the outdoor season picks up and directed Cannon last year to work on revisions to the city’s noise ordinance.