CLAYTON -- Despite the passage of a new county noise ordinance, the Clayton Town Council is still considering an update to its own.
On Sept. 4, Johnston County Commissioners passed a noise law they had been debating for months as a response to a feud between neighbors over one resident’s incessant shooting. The ordinance outlines a slew of subjective ways of determining whether a noise is “unreasonably loud or disturbing,” including the time of day, proximity to residences, etc.
The new law bans unreasonably loud noise that is “substantially incompatible with the time and location where created to the extent that it creates actual or imminent interference with peace, order or calm.”
But Clayton’s current noise ordinance is rather similar to that, tasking police with deciding if noises would annoy “a reasonably prudent person,” before issuing a warning or a fine.
In May, Clayton council member Art Holder suggested the council try to write a far more specific noise law, using decibel levels to determine whether a noise is violating the law.
“It was too subjective, and it became a personal decision by the police whether it was too loud or not, so I’ve tried to change that,” Holder said.
Town Manager Steve Biggs is in communication to work with Caterpillar, which has a sound engineer on staff and sound-measuring equipment. The plan is to have the sound engineer visit places around town and take baseline measurements of common noises, like band practice at the high school, and present that to the council.
In order to understand the measurements, the engineer would also stage a demonstration in town square to give council members an opportunity to know what it means when they pass a law to limit noise at, say, 55 decibels.
“We just want something that is objective so we can answer to both sides,” Biggs said. “Right now it’s completely objective,” Biggs said.
The public will also be invited to listen to the demonstration and weigh in, helping the town to decide what really is too noisy.
“We do have a lot of citizens that are very interested in this noise control ordinance,” Holder said at a recent town council meeting.
Once the council passes a new ordinance, the town would allocate roughly $2,000 in next year’s budget to equip four or five patrol cars with decibel meters.