RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – From loud cars to loud music, there are a lot of noises that lead people to file a noise complaint, but is the way Wake County measures and enforces these noise violations actually working?
The county is looking at revising its noise ordinance. People weighed in on the proposed changes during a public hearing at the Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday evening.
“Our current ordinance is in many ways unworkable,” said Wake County Board of Commissioner for District 2 Matt Calabria.
Wake County Planning Director Timothy Maloney said that the changes are needed to try and match the county’s growth and better align the ordinance with how it’s being enforced.
The main change is measuring noise with a reasonable person standard instead of by decibels.
“The current ordinance requires the use of a sound meter for our deputies to go out and measure sound, it becomes very cumbersome and impractical to do that by the time a deputy gets out there, the noise is gone,” said Maloney.
Some people at the hearing thought the changes would help enforce the ordinance better, including a man who said he’s been dealing with noise from a neighbor’s loud vehicle for two years. The man said despite reporting the problem no one has taken action.
Last year, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office received more than 1,000 noise complaints.
At the public hearing, several farmers shared concerns about the proposed changes, wanting agritourism to be exempt from the ordinance like other farming practices.
While agritourism isn’t exempt from the current noise ordinance, the owner and president of Firefly Farms and The Meadows at Firefly Farms, Kurt Regensburger, said his business was able to find a way to comply with the current ordinance. However, he is unsure about how to comply with the proposed one.
He said his venue hosts about 60 weddings a year.
“Right now, we have our own decibel counters, we have soundproofed our buildings, we have done everything we can to follow the current ordinance,” Regensburger said. “With the new ordinance, the decibels go away, the ability to monitor goes away, and now it’s up to a reasonable person whether it’s loud or not loud.”
Maloney said he believes county leaders are open to perhaps adding the agritourism exemption based on the concerns from farmers at the public hearing.
The changes apply to the unincorporated parts of the county.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners will continue to discuss the proposed changes at their meeting on Nov. 20.