Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Seven months after reviewing the first draft of an ordinance geared toward regulating noise within the city limits, Franklin leaders passed a new ordinance Monday night. The “noise control ordinance” states that “it shall be unlawful to create, cause or allow the continuance of any unreasonably loud, disturbing, or frightening noise, particularly during the nighttime (11 p.m. to 8 a.m.) which substantially interferes with neighboring residents’ reasonable use and enjoyment of their properties.
Franklin Town Attorney John Henning Jr. has worked on the new ordinance under the direction of the town for months. He reviewed similar ordinances from around Western North Carolina to craft new regulations that would best serve Franklin residents.
The ordinance lists the specific prohibitions and nuisance acts such as horns and signaling devices; motor vehicles or motorcycles which operate without a muffler or other device in good working order; exterior loudspeakers; power equipment such as saw, sander, drill, grinder, leaf blower; explosives such as firearms; security alarms for more than 20 minutes after law enforcement is notified; dogs and other animals barking or making disturbing noises continuously or intermittently for more than 30 minutes; motor vehicle speakers; and musical instruments or sound amplification equipment.
The ordinance provides exceptions to the regulations such as sound emanating from regularly scheduled outdoor athletic events on the campus of schools within the town’s corporate limits, such as football games at Franklin High School. Construction operations from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends for which building permits have been issued, or construction operations at any time for projects not requiring permits due to ownership of the project by an agency of the government. Other exemptions include noises of safety signals, warning devices, and emergency pressure relief valves and all church bells, noise resulting from emergency vehicles, activities permitted by laws such as events or festivals, all noises coming from normal operations of properly equipped aircrafts, all noises from property operating motor vehicles, musical accompaniment or firearm discharge related to military ceremonies, and agricultural equipment or lawnmowers from property owners being used between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In addition to the specific noises that are prohibited, the ordinance also outlines that it will be unlawful for a group of any number of people to make or continue to make any loud, raucous, and disturbing noise.
The enforcement of the ordinance is up to the town of Franklin police department and their discretion. Town police will be responsible for making the decision if any complaint driven noise issue is in violation of the new regulations.
If someone is found to be in violation of the ordinance, a monetary civil fine will be charged, with increasing monetary charges for each additional citation period within 365 days. If the civil fines are not paid, a criminal misdemeanor can be levied.