Town adopts new noise ordinance

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Following a public hearing, in a 6-1 vote, the Farmville Town Council adopted a new town noise ordinance during its Dec. 11 meeting.

At-large representative Dan Dwyer cast the only no vote.

In recent months, the council’s Finance and Ordinance committee began working to come up with a new noise ordinance following a complaint that came months prior.

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According to Interim Town Manager Dr. C. Scott Davis the original discussion on the town’s noise ordinance, began several months ago when Buffalo Wild Wings had a DJ playing music on the outside patio, and a complaint was made.

The newly adopted noise ordinance, Sec. 16-1, now defines what is loud and disturbing, stating, “Unreasonable Loud: Noise, which is substantially incompatible with the time and locations were created to the extent that it creates an actual or imminent interference with peace or good order is. The following factors incident to such noise are to be considered: time of day; proximity to residential structures; whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent or constant; the volume and intensity; whether the noise is related to normal operation of a business or other labor activity and whether the noise is subject to being controlled without unreasonable effort or expense to the creator.

The new ordinance also enacts new timeframes.

The playing of any music or other noise, whether electronically or otherwise, in such a manner or with such a volume or duration, particularly during the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The new ordinance also states, “Creating loud and excessive noise in residential areas between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following day about the loading or unloading of refuse or waste collection, tools used in construction, repair, alteration or demolition work, or repairing, rebuilding or modifying a motor vehicle or other mechanical device. “

Creating any excessive noise on any street adjacent to any school, institute of learning, or court while in session or adjunct to any hospital at any time is prohibited.

Sec. 16-1 of the old Town of Farmville Noise Ordinance states, “Playing any radio, phonograph or musical instrument in such a manner or with such volume or duration, particularly during the hours between 12:00 midnight and 7 a.m., as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of persons in or on the property of any dwelling, hotel or other types of residence is prohibited.”

In September, the town police department and officials began to receive complaints from resident Floyd Duffy who lives behind the newly established North Street Press Club. In addition, Hotel Weyanoke, which is adjacent to the business, has also expressed noise concerns.

Ross Fickenscher representative with Hotel Weyanoke addressed the council during the public hearing saying, “The Hotel Weyanoke and its guests have a right to quiet enjoyment. This right Fickenscher further stated, “Is the town really proposing that none of its citizens be granted the right to a quiet night’s sleep until 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday. And midnight Thursday through Saturday.? This is simply not reasonable … The hotel’s position is that it finds nothing acceptable, less than a 9 p.m. cutoff Sunday through Thursday and a 10 p.m. cutoff Friday and Saturday.”

According to Fickenscher following noise issues this fall, they invited town officials and police to the establishment.

“They have agreed that the noise experience in our guest rooms is unacceptable,” said Fickenscher “Unfortunately, the problem persists.”

Ward E representative and Finance and Ordinance Chair Jamie Davis asked the Town’s Attorney Gary Elder why the inclusion of time frames on certain days was needed in the ordinance.

Elder replied, explaining that this is something that one typically finds in a lot of ordinances and that in reviewing ordinances across the state, he noticed time frames included.

“I don’t think anyone typically expects to be wholly immune from noise at all hours of the day,” said Elder. “I mean, you live in a populated urban area, you expect to hear some noise, but you generally, I would think it would be more of a heightened issue during certain hours. So, noise that we may find acceptable at 6 p.m., we probably might not find it acceptable at 3 a.m..”

Owners of the North Street Press Club, Nash Osborne, and Matt Hurley both spoke during the public hearing.

Hurley told the council that they were aware of the noise issues and have addressed the situation. “We have been very proactive,” he said. “We didn’t have any concerns when we first opened, and all of a sudden, it just started snowballing, and we have been working on the issue.”

Hurley continued to say, “Sometimes we never change anything from a Wednesday to a Friday or Saturday, and the volume doesn’t change a bit. But we may get three complaints on Thursday and not on Saturday.”

Hurley further reminded the council that the North Street Press Club was, in fact, located in a business district, and they did not surprise the town with what they were planning.

“We spoke very openly about a nightclub, a restaurant, and what we were trying to achieve here in Farmville and we have been true to that,” he explained. “Again, I’m very proud of the North Street Press Club and what we put together.”

Co-owner, Nash Osborne informed the council of the steps the establishment has taken to reduce noise for both the Hotel Weyanoke’s guest and its neighbor, Floyd Duffey.

“We’ve covered our stage with a three-quarter inch rubber matting, which is basically soundproofing,” said Osborne. “The windows on the rear side of the building facing the hotel have been covered in an acoustical foam. We have adjusted through our sound engineer the levels of the music that we deemed to be reasonable and we have had meetings between the hotel and our managers to achieve levels of music that were acceptable.”

Nash continued to say that the business managers go outside to check decibel readings.

“We have not read anything outside that is any louder than traffic noise,” Osborne said. “We want to coexist. We want to have a relationship with the hotel and with the town, and we don’t want these problems. The noise ordinance as it’s been proposed is acceptable to me.”

Mayor David Whitus inquired about the enforcement of the ordinance. “If someone is found to be in violation, it would be a class four misdemeanor and a $250 fine, explained Elder.

Councilmember, Jamie Davis, pointed out that he felt the ordinance was designed to cover the town as a whole and not just one or two institutes.

“There’s never going to be a perfect way to measure it (noise), and there’s never going to be a perfect solution to it,” said Whitus.

Councilmember Dwyer who voted no said on Monday that, in hindsight, if they were to vote again he would likely vote yes. “Noise ordinances are comprehensive and apply to noise in the entire town,” he said. “I was unsettled and focused on the issues between two local businesses. I believe the ordinance as approved will be good.”