Sometimes its better just to admit that a problem is too complex to legislate.
That’s the conclusion Clayton town council members reached this week as they opted to halt work on a proposed noise ordinance. We have long advocated that any noise ordinance should have the flexibility to allow for different levels of noise in different parts of town. Highway traffic along U.S. 70 Business is simply going to be louder than what one might expect in a residential neighborhood in the town’s outer fringes. Downtown should be noisier than other places in town.
To this point the town has always opted to use common sense to regulate noise. Complaints from neighbhors might prompt a police officer to check out a loud party and encourage the partiers to settle down just a bit.
The noise that generally upsets a neighborhood is unexpected noise, or abnormal noise, like firecrackers going off after dark. The truth is, unwanted noise has not been a major problem for most residents.
Council members were faced with the unenviable task of trying to create rules that took into account any number of variables.
Backing out of that situation, and giving police the authority to monitor community disturbances will likely be the best option for town leaders. We’re glad they saw the wisdom of putting a halt to the effort.