Changes for Matthews noise ordinance?

Police chief, commissioners review complaints

by Josh Whitener

To change or not to change? That seems to be the question as Matthews re-examines its noise ordinance.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting Monday, July 9, town officials and Chief of Police Rob Hunter discussed the town’s current noise ordinance and whether it’s time to make some changes.

During this year’s planning conference, some board members expressed concerns that the current noise ordinance wasn’t as effective as it should be. The ordinance, created in February 2005, is based on a “reasonableness” standard – what the community would consider reasonable – and places restrictions on certain motor vehicles, amplified sounds including loudspeakers and music and other sounds impacting residential life.

Since 2005, the town’s volunteer environmental committee has proposed revisions to the ordinance – mostly clarifications including definitions, expansion on sound prohibitions and consolidation of similar sections. In addition, Mayor Pro Tem Paul Bailey submitted a proposed revision to the ordinance, significantly limiting the time of day amplified sounds would be allowed. Commissioners haven’t yet voted on any of these options.

Some commissioners believe a significant number of sounds that could potentially disturb the peace – and those that have brought the matter to discussion – come from athletic fields and related events. Matthews currently has four major recreational fields or facilities: Butler High School, Crestdale Middle School, Warner Park and the Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association.

Mayor Jim Taylor said the primary complaints he’s heard are sounds of crowds cheering and yelling during sporting events and kids “screaming and having fun,” something he wasn’t sure the town could even control with ordinance revisions.

But Bailey’s concerns go a step further, he said.

“It goes beyond just children and screaming,” Bailey said. “It’s coaches yelling at children and the language being used that shouldn’t be used. Let’s call it what it is.”

Taylor responded, stating he didn’t think that was a major issue.

“I can honestly say I’ve never witnessed anything … other than cheering,” he said. “I’m not there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I can tell you the times I have been there it’s been all good.”

But these concerns may not be a significant issue with the public, as shown in statistics Hunter outlined in his memo and referenced in his presentation to commissioners Monday evening.

Since July 1, 2011, the Matthews Police Department has responded to 256 noise complaints: loud music, barking dogs, fireworks, shots fired, arguments and other incidents. Only four resulted in investigative reports being taken, three of which were barking dog calls and one that was a non-related arrest. The remaining 252 calls were settled at the time of the call, Hunter said.

Taylor told the board citizen surveys showed the vast majority of residents are in favor of the activities held throughout the town, regardless of the noise. “I’m not going to sit here and pretend we don’t have people that are impacted by (noise) negatively, but I think many, many more are positively impacted,” he said. “So we need to be aware that this may be … a very small vocal minority. We have to try to help them out the best we can, but it may be in the best interest of the town not to do
anything.”

The town hopes to get more information on the impact of the current noise ordinance from the environmental committee, as well as host a public meeting in the near future to get input from the citizens.

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2 Responses

  1. Gary Murphy

    The Mint Hill Commissioners voted last to hold a public hearing on October 11, 2012 at 7:00PM to review the noise ordinance..

    A well crafted noise ordinance is not about stopping family fun, rather it helps to manage aberrant behavior. A well crafted noise ordinance fines bad neighbors and holds them accountable when repeatedly disturbing the peace.

    A well crafted noise ordinance will enable our police department to perform a service to the community within set guidelines – rather than not answering a call at all until after 10:00PM..

  2. Gary Murphy

    Mint Hill is also in need of noise ordinance changes, especially residental amplified sound. As Mint Hill grows in population, so must the standards of our ordinances to provide a quality of life for ALL our residents.

    Today in Mint HIll, anyone can make as much noise and the want for as long as they want between the hours of 7:00AM – 10:00PM. That needs to change!!!! I will be at the August 16, 2012 Town meeting to present my case and request that our commissioners recognize the change and implement it the change as soon as possible. Anyone who wants to support this please attend as well.

    Here is an example taken from the current Mecklenburg County unincorporated noise ordinance that we should adopt – word for word!

    Section 4. Amplified Sound.

    (a) In the unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County, it shall be unlawful to:

    (1) Operate or allow the operation of any sound amplification equipment so
    as to create sounds registering fifty five (55) db(A) between 9:00am and
    9:00pm or fifty (50)db(A) between 9:00pm and 9:00am, as measured
    anywhere within the boundary line of the nearest residentially occupied
    property, except in accordance with a permit obtained from the Charlotte-
    Mecklenburg Police Department.

    Section 8. Enforcement and penalties.

    Upon violation of any provision of this ordinance, the County, at its discretion, may take one or more of the following enforcement actions.
    (a) A police officer or an animal control officer may issue a citation subjecting the violator to a one hundred dollar ($100.00) civil penalty. The penalty may provide for a ten-dollar ($10.00) delinquency charge for non-payment.
    (b) The violator may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable in accordance the North Carolina General Statute 14-4 with a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or other sanctions allowed by law.
    (c) A civil action seeking a penalty of five hundred dollars ($500.00) per day of violation along with orders of abatement and injunction may be directed toward any person creating or allowing the creation of any unlawful noise, including the owner or person otherwise having legal or actual control of the premises from which it emanates.
    (d) A police officer may issue a citation for violation of Section 3(a)(1) of this
    ordinance that subjects the violator to a civil penalty in the amount of two
    hundred dollars ($200.00). The penalty shall provide for a ten-dollar ($10.00) delinquency charge upon nonpayment, and the County may recover the penaltyand the delinquency charges in a civil action.For the purposes of this section, violator means the operator of the front- end loader, the employer of the operator or the company, partnership, corporation or other person or entity owning, possessing or controlling the front-end loader.

    To view the entire ordinance, please refer to this link

    http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/resources/Ordinances/Documents/CountyNoiseOrdinance.pdf

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