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Clarksville Council holds off action on noise ordinance
SoVaNow.com / December 26, 2012During a brief meeting Tuesday, Clarksville Town Council approved a rezoning request for Coopers Landing Inn & Travelers Tavern and again discussed, but took no action on, a noise ordinance for the town.
Coopers Landing on Virginia Avenue was granted a rezoning from R-1 to business, after it was discovered that a prior rezoning request was never completed or filed. In approving the request, Council member Glenn Jurczyk, in his capacity as interim zoning administrator, said their zoning is now consistent with the business that the proprietors, Les and Nichol Cooper, operate at the Virginia Avenue site.
He and Mayor Kevin Allgood assured the public who showed up because of the request that “this rezoning does not exempt Coopers Landing from having to comply with existing regulations regarding noise.”
Jurczyk then objected to the current proposed town noise ordinance. He said he believes it to be unconstitutional and anti-business. The ordinance, which interim town manager Charles Lee had drafted by an attorney specializing in township and municipal law, regulates the extent of noise that can be made, generally between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. under certain circumstances. The circumstances subject to regulation include social gatherings, amplified sound from vehicles, noise in connection with lawn care, and allowing animals to make plainly audible noise for a period of at least 10 minutes.
Jurcyzk first called the law unconstitutional, citing a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court that struck down a ban on blaring car stereos. That law allowed police to ticket drivers whose music could be heard 25 feet away. At the same time it exempted from the noise ordinance any broadcasts of commercial or political messages.
Clarksville’s noise ordinance, even as it relates to car stereos, is significantly different. It does not exempt any type of broadcast, aside from jingles emanating from an ice cream or similar food service truck made between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., and the noise must be “plainly audible from outside the motor vehicle at a distance of 50 feet or more.”
Jurczyk also objected because he said the ordinance, as written, would negatively impact him as the owner of dogs that like to bark on deer that come onto his property.
Several members of Council tried to explain that as long as he does not “cause or permit” his dog or dogs to bark repeatedly for ten consecutive minutes or more, or “cause or permit” the barking to be heard more than 75 feet from the animal for ten minutes or more, Jurczyk and his dogs are not subject to the statute.
One significant change the ordinance makes is to the time frame during which “plainly audible” noise can occur in Clarksville. It reads, “the operation, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any musical instrument, record, tape, disc player, or any device capable of producing or reproducing sound [is allowed] between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday or between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday” if the noise is made “within the areas zoned for commercial uses along Virginia Avenue between Second Street and the intersection of Virginia Avenue and U.S. Highway 15 South.”
The exemption does not apply only to commercial establishments within the area zoned for commercial use.
Council member Bill Nunn said he objected to the ordinance. He asked, “Don’t we already have enough laws on the books to cover this?” Police Chief Ricky Wilkinson, said, “No.”
After the discussion, Council agreed to revisit the ordinance at its next meeting.
In other business, Town Operations Director Richard Elliott said the town’s waterline improvement project was essentially complete. There remains one small section of line that needs to be upgraded from a 2” pipe to a 6” pipe and there is so minor repaving work yet to be done. Elliott commended contractor Harman Saunders for doing a great job.
New sidewalks and curbs have been installed on the south side of Market Street. The front yards along the site still need to be reseeded. Resident Kevin Watkins thanked the town, saying, “I have the best looking sidewalks in town.”
Lee said that the Virginia Commission on Local Government will visit Clarksville on January 28 to “hopefully” complete its work on the town’s annexation settlement with Mecklenburg County. Commission members will spend the first part of the day touring the area and meeting with officials involved in the annexation. The public will be able to address the Commission at a public hearing set for 7 p.m. Jan. 28.
Lee said he would update Council as new or more information was received on this project.
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