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Macon considers drafting noise ordinance

Noise was the main topic of conversation at the Sept. 18 meeting of the Macon County Planning Board. The county’s board of commissioners had charged the planning board with looking into a noise ordinance last month after Matlock Creek resident Betty Bennett approached them complaining of noise and partying so bad she and her husband could not sleep at night. 


“Something needs to be done about noise control,” Bennett told commissioners. “I mean, they party until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.”

Bennett said she’d called the sheriff’s office about the problem before, but without a noise ordinance, all law enforcement can do is ask the neighbors to turn their music down. And at least once that’s just resulted in the neighbors turning the tunes up louder.

Commissioner Ronnie Beale told Bennett that he gets multiple calls a week about noise problems and that the county might need to look into creating an ordinance. Commissioners recently asked the planning board to look into that possibility. 

“Basically all we did last week was take a lot of public comment and begin the discussions,” said Matt Mason, county planner. “We’ve not made any decisions or even started to think about options yet.” 

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Four people showed up to the public comment session, Mason said, including county resident Donna Majerus, who brought a petition bearing more than 200 signatures supporting some kind of noise regulation. Lou Vitale of the Macon Aero Modeler’s Club also came, cautioning the planning board to be considerate when drafting an ordinance of legitimate activities, such as those enjoyed by his organization, that create noise. 

“When you’re looking at a noise ordinance, you have to be very careful because noise is so hard to define,” Mason said. “It can be something as simple as a lawnmower or a leaf blower to a dog barking or any number of issues we’re not necessarily trying to address.”

Mason echoed the comments Beale and County Attorney Chester Jones made at the August commissioner meeting. Beale had cautioned Bennett that noise is hard to define, and Jones said that even with an ordinance in place, enforcement isn’t a given.  

But, Bennett said, “We desperately need some kind of noise control.” 

Over the next month, the planning board will take a close look at noise ordinances adopted by nearby counties, especially Clay, Haywood and Henderson. At its October meeting, they’ll start talking about a next step. 

“The board is supposed to come back and meet next month and sort of start the discussion and see where to begin,” Mason said. 

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