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Noise ordinance amendments to be reviewed next week

King George Board of Supervisors are expected to review and iron out changes to a proposed noise ordinance at next week’s meeting on Tuesday, May 21.

The proposed draft is currently being tweaked by County Attorney Eric Gregory at the board’s direction, and is the topic of legal communications with board members.
The direction to provide revisions to the advertised proposed ordinance was made last week, following a public hearing on a new draft ordinance on May 7.

That hearing drew about 50 people, other than staff and those from other agencies, with 18 providing comments regarding the proposal. Eleven of those commenting were from Fairview Beach, including property owners, renters, and the owners of two restaurants and a store in that beachfront community.

The draft that had been the subject of the hearing was primarily based on decibel levels, but it also addressed such things as habitually barking dogs and other frequent or repeated noise. It also contained important exceptions and exemptions.

HEARING COMMENTs
All speakers expressed their comments in a cordial, reasonable manner, though differing opinions were stated.

Those speaking regarding the potential effect of the advertised noise ordinance in Fairview Beach included those in favor of the proposed ordinance, those who don’t want restrictions on music levels and powerboat noises, and those who wanted some tweaking to the proposal. Some speakers said they were in favor of the proposed noise ordinance, and its parameters would not affect the relaxed lifestyle.

Most speaking from Fairview Beach said they appreciate the beachfront life that includes boating, loud music, partying, and a relaxed atmosphere, mostly centered around weekend leisure times. A few stated that daytime decibel levels might be extended a little later on weekends, including Thursdays.

Those speaking about Fairview Beach were Jack Reynolds, Mike Bennett, Elizabeth Strank, Robert Davis, Andy Myruski, Terry O’Toole, and Rich Hale, who suggested a first warning should be issued prior to any violation. In addition, the board heard comments from Ashley and Alex Thacker, and Guy Booth, who own beachfront restaurants, and Lisa Shrewsbury, who owns a store.

Some of the concerns expressed from those and others included questions about the noise from generators used during power outages, and some asked about the vagueness of using the property line as the point for measuring sound levels with a complaint.

Speakers from other areas of the county included Ian Smith, who was not in favor of sound restrictions, and Dreda Newman and Susan Gilman who were in favor of them.

Ken Luskay suggested extending night-time restrictions later in the mornings, especially with later times on weekends, also suggesting the decibel levels should be lower than proposed, along with asking for less vagueness about barking-dog noise violations.

Buck Price, Penny Delano and Warren Veazey expressed concerns about restrictions on noise from agricultural activities and farm animals, though farming activities are largely exempt from any noise ordinance under the state’s Right to Farm Act.

WHAT’S NEXT?
A new draft may be available for public review by the end of this week. If so, it would appear in the online meeting packet to be posted at the end of the day this Friday.

At next Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisors will see whether or not an amended draft would require advertisement for another public hearing, or if the board can go forward with adoption. That depends on the extent and substance of final amendments. The board is eager to get an ordinance in place as summer approaches, with possible amendments to be incorporated again at a later date.

Phyllis Cook

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