Council addresses noise concerns

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Selma residents are one step closer to an environmental court, which would hear cases of property neglect, tent revivals and noise violations, which some city officials said could be handled out of court by simply “being neighborly.”

Mayor James Perkins Jr. told the Selma City Council Monday during its regular meeting that some of the problems in the community with noise, especially loud music coming from vehicles, starts at home. One councilman went as far as to say police were not enforcing the noise ordinance.

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Councilman Cecil Williamson, who has been an outspoken critic of the police department said,

“nobody is enforcing the noise ordinance.”

“I don’t know what else we can do,” Williamson said. “Maybe we can use a few more tent revivals.”

Perkins said “what may be noise to some, might not be a problem to others.”

“I have teenagers and I tell them to keep it down,” said Perkins, who added complaints that officers are not citing individuals for noise violations is an assertion that “gives police officers a bad rap.”

City officials are taking another look at the city’s noise ordinance, which some say leaves too much to the discretion of police officers, and others say is already too strict. They all agree the ordinance is difficult to enforce. Police called to a scene have to witness the nuisance for themselves before writing a citation.

Councilwoman Geraldine Allen, who along with Council President George Evans, Councilwoman Jean Martin and Councilman Johnnie Leashore, cut public service announcements at a local radio station encouraging young people to be considerate. Allen said citizens having problems with neighbors should be able to ask their neighbors to “turn it down.”

Leashore encouraged his colleagues that had not recorded PSA’s to do so.

Complaints have increased, largely due to the new technology that inexpensively allows young people to outfit their vehicles with “booming systems” that rattle interiors as they pass. Allen said she had witnessed occasions when police were called to a noise violation and never came.

“I’ve even had an occasion when I’ve been cussed out when I asked someone to turn their music down,” Allen said.

Allen said she got a call from a resident who said their neighbors were “partying like they had a permit” to exceed the noise level.

City Attorney Jimmy Nunn is researching the city’s current nuisance ordinances, including the noise ordinance. Nunn said “Section B” in the current noise ordinance deals with loud neighbors. It was passed in 2002, but city officials may want to revisit its effectiveness, he said.

“The ordinance says you can have a party, but it can’t be heard over 50 feet away,” Nunn said. “If your music is heard five feet from a car, it’s breaking the law. He (officers) doesn’t have any discretion the way the law is written.”

Evans agreed the ordinance might be difficult to enforce. He said he has received calls from citizens who want something done about the noise.

“It’s not a put-down to officers at all,” Evans said. “I get calls, and I’ve gone out and visualized some situations.”