During a Monday morning work session, the Lee County Board of Supervisors generally agreed the proposal went too far. But supervisors still want more teeth than what they currently have.
“I firmly believe we need something in place to give a little more kick than what we’ve got,” said District 2 Supervisor Bobby Smith.
So supervisors canceled their Feb. 21 public hearing on the matter until they have a better solution, which will come through a collaborative effort by county attorney Gary Carnathan, Sheriff Jim Johnson and county prosecutor James Moore.
The three hope to present an alternate ordinance within the next several weeks, but supervisors said they want time to review it before scheduling a new hearing.
Some, including Smith and District 4 Supervisor Tommie Lee Ivy, complained that the Daily Journal’s coverage of the previous proposal stirred up too much controversy before the group had a chance to fully review it.
That proposal, which was provided by Carnathan, would have limited noise decibels to 58 at night and 65 during the day, as measured from the road or another property – presumably from the property of the person who complained about the noise.
But Johnson argued the limits were too low. During a decibel meter test in January, Johnson found that even routine noises like the hum of an idling truck exceeded the ordinance’s limit.
He prefers an ordinance that specifies what kind of noises could be in violation – music and profanity, for example – instead of a blanket rule against all loud sounds. He also said that very few people actually complain about sound.
“This is a very unique case to these two individuals,” Johnson said, pointing to two residents in attendance who have pushed for the ordinance due to problems in their neighborhoods.
Under the current state law, residents bothered by loud noise must file an affidavit before a Justice Court judge and take the alleged offender to court. But in the case of one of the residents in attendance, Jackie Blackburn, both his suits were dismissed without charges.
That prompted supervisors to speculate that the problem wasn’t with the current law, but with the judges assigned to those cases.
“No law is better than the judge hearing it,” Smith said. “If that judge is not going to see it the way that we see it, we’re wasting our time.”
In Blackburn’s cases, one was dismissed because it was filed incorrectly, and the other because it lacked sufficient evidence, according to Moore.