Complaints now based on distance, not decibels
by Saja Hindi
The Stallings town council voted Monday, Nov. 28, to strike references to the decibel meter in the town’s noise ordinance. Instead town officials will base their judgement on distance in assessing noise complaints.
According to Police Chief Michael Dummett, the reasoning behind this change was not due to a complaint, rather for more accuracy.
“When we design a law or a rule, what you have to do is worst case scenario,” Dummett said.
Using rolo tape to determine distance is not only easier, he said, but better in the case of residents who are complaining about a noise maker who may argue about an officer’s qualifications or certification in the state of North Carolina to use a decibel meter.
When he was an officer in Salisbury for 16 years, Dummet said, the police department dealt with a lot of noise complaints, so his experience spurred him to suggest the change.
“I knew you need to make sure these things are pretty iron clad because that’s what they’re going to take to court when they don’t want to pay a fine,” he said.
Town council member Reed Esarove said the decibel meter was problematic because it was hard to enforce the ordinance, so the council met with the town’s attorney to discuss the issue.
“The town attorney agreed with the chief’s recommendation that it would probably be better to remove the decibel meter clauses in the noise ordinance because it’s very difficult to utilize in its application,” Esarove said.
Although the Stallings police department hasn’t had any problems with residents challenging the decibel meter at this point in time, Dummett said he felt confident about the change.
Other factors listed in the ordinance that determine what is “unreasonably loud and disturbing” include “time of day; proximity to residential structures; whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent or constant; the volume and intensity; whether the noise has been enhanced in volume or range by any kind of electronic means; the character and zoning of the area; and whether the noise is subject to being controlled without unreasonable effort or expense to the creator thereof.”