Hatteras speakers are loud and clear on noise rule
Speakers, ranging from wedding planners to DJs to restaurant owners, argued in a public hearing that a draft ordinance could harm businesses or even shut them down.
Several businesses submitted an alternative plan that would set “quiet hours” late in the evening until early morning rather than basing enforcement on decibel levels all day long.
Most agreed, however, that a clearer ordinance is needed because the current one outlaws disturbing noises but gives deputies responding to complaints no objective guidelines to determine if a violation has occurred.
The current ordinance has been in place since the early 1970s.
Several speakers said weddings have become big business and a strict noise ordinance could discourage brides from planning their events on Hatteras Island.
“I’m here tonight because the sound ordinance that is currently up for vote is a direct threat to our industry, our incomes our livelihoods, our families and our future,” said Kate Pullen, president of the non-profit Outer Banks Wedding Association.
Like others, Pullen said that the association agrees on the need for an “attainable, measurable and reasonable sound ordinance.”
A proposal circulated by business owners on Hatteras Island suggests setting “quiet hours” in residential areas after 11 p.m. when decibel levels would be enforced. In commercial areas, the time would start “as late as midnight.”
Maximum decibels levels would be 65 in residential areas and 75 in commercial areas, the proposal says. A level of 60, which is commonly used in local ordinances, is about the same as the level of a conversation. The level would be measured not at the source but on the adjoining public street right-of-way.
It suggested that a separate set of rules be established for industrial areas.
The county’s draft ordinance specified varying decibel levels throughout the day and night with some exceptions.
Discussions about changing the current ordinance were prompted by complaints about outdoor music.
Commissioners agreed to direct county staffers to keep working on the ordinance. County Manager Bobby Outten said he would work with business owners and residents to try to come up with an agreeable alternative.
Commissioner Allen Burrus, who represents Hatteras Island, said the current ordinance is not good for businesses because “it’s subjective to the person that’s hearing it.”
“So you need a better ordinance,” he said. “We need a better ordinance. We know that.”
See what people are saying:
Join the discussion:
You must be registered and logged in to post a comment.