CAVE CITY — Cave City's code enforcement board will be charged with the duty of enforcing a new noise ordinance that was adopted on first reading by the Cave City Council at its Monday night meeting.
The ordinance was created after several citizens who live along Grinstead Mill Road complained at the August city council meeting about a loud noise coming from the residence of one of their neighbors.
“We have checked with other cities. We have looked and checked with KLC (Kentucky League of Cities) and like I said we have been working hard on trying to come up with something that we feel like will work,” Mayor Dwayne Hatcher said.
City Attorney Bobby Richardson credited Seaborn Ellzey, a city employee, on the research he did on noise ordinances.
“What I have done is taken an ordinance from Louisville and fashioned it for Cave City,” Richardson said.
Richardson read a summary of the ordinance, which establishes standards for noise created in Cave City. It states that “unreasonably loud, harsh or excessive noise(s)” are prohibited. It also states that “certain necessary activities creating noise are exempt from prohibition except between the hours of 9 p.m.and 7 a.m.”
Violators of the ordinance could face a fine between $100 to $250 for the first offense within a two-year period. The fines will increase for multiple offenses and could be as much as $1,000 per offense, he said.
After approving the ordinance on first reading, the city council then discussed the issue.
Councilman John Grissom brought up that there was discussion at the August city council meeting about establishing a committee to discuss the issue.
“There has been no committee set,” he said. “I think all of us, including you and Robert (Smith, code enforcement officer), we need to sit down and go over this with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that it will work with anything citywide as far as noise. I wan't to make sure we're not going to exclude anybody who shouldn't be excluded and to make sure it's perfectly fair for everyone. I don't want anybody going home at night and being afraid they can't turn their television on and open up their front door, but I also don't want anyone running their motorcycle at midnight either. We need to make sure this is fair for each and every citizen of Cave City. That includes me as well.”
Smith pointed out that if the ordinance was approved on first reading, a meeting could be set up with the code enforcement board and some of the city council members to discuss the issue prior to approving the ordinance on the second reading.
“It just won't go anywhere if we don't have that meeting,” Councilwoman Beverly Ford said.
Hatcher then pointed out the ordinance is not final until the city council approves it on second reading.
Councilman Steve Pedigo asked Police Chief Darrell Butler if he had received any calls about noise along Grinstead Mill Road.
“There's been a few, but very few,” Butler said.
Pedigo then asked him if had any luck in stopping the noise.
“A little bit. I think it's ceasing a little bit,” Butler said.
Jeremy Gray, a resident of Grinstead Mill Road, then asked to address the city council.
“I would just like to say that the number of calls to the police department is the direct result of being told that we have no noise ordinance and therefore our hands our tied,” he said. “But I can report to each and every one of you that the activity has not ceased. It's just bad as now as it was a month ago.”
The noise Gray spoke about is coming from demolition-type lawnmowers and cars.
He asked the city council how the noise ordinance would specifically address the Grinstead Mill residents' problem of excessive noise in a residential area in the afternoon hours.
“It's great to have from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m., but how is that going to help us in our specific problem?” Gray said.
Richardson replied that the ordinance will address the Grinstead Mill Road noise issue and said it will be up to the code enforcement board, after hearing the evidence, to determine it was loud, harsh or excessive.
“Somebody has to make that decision. Chief Butler may issue a citation and say it is. He will have to come in here to testify to that board and you will as to what was there and then the board will decided if in fact it violates this ordinance,” Richardson said.
If a violation of the ordinance is determined, Richardson said the offenders will be fined by the code enforcement board.
Grissom then asked Richardson what the city could do legally immediately in reference to the issue. He wanted to know if a charge of disorderly conduct could be filed.
Butler replied that there is nothing the city can really do if the people are just working on their cars.
“If they are out on the street cussing and yelling, that's disorderly conduct,” Butler said. “Because they're out there working on their car with their lawnmower running that doesn't fall in the category of disorderly conduct.”
Gray told the city council he would like to add that the noise is not “normal lawnmower noise. These are souped-up lawnmowers, loud mufflers and as we mentioned last month it's audibly … you can hear it from city hall.”
Grissom asked about an existing ordinance the city has regarding noise decibels. Richardson explained that particular ordinance is only from radios in cars.
“I guess that's why we need to make sure we go through this pretty well to make sure we include it all,” Grissom said.
Gray said he wanted to make sure the early afternoon hours were covered by the ordinance, because he didn't want to prevent anyone from mowing their yard.
“That's not what I'm here for. I'm here for this ongoing problem of these souped-up demolition vehicles that make, honestly, life not worth living here. It makes us want to move,” Gray said. “We shouldn't be forced away from our home where we've lived for 23 years.”
He continued that the reason the city hasn't had a lot of calls about it is because he and others have been told by police officers that the city has no ordinance and therefore their hands are tied.
“We just need something we can enforce,” Butler said.
Hatcher then asked if the noise is being created in the early afternoon hours of the day, it is covered by the ordinance. Richardson replied that it was covered.
“They can't do it if they're not mowing their yard, once this is put into effect?” Hatcher said. “That type of activity is covered in this.”
Richardson reiterated that any unreasonably loud, harsh or excessive noise is any manufactured noise plainly audible from at a distance of 50 feet from the point of origination.
Gray also told the city council that he and his neighbors have been advised not to approach those who are making the loud noise, but to call the police instead.
“That's what we have done,” he said. “I'm telling you it is mighty hard when you are sitting in your home trying to watch television or even read a book and it's awful. It's reached a point to where it has to be dealt with.”
Hatcher told Gray and others who live along Grinstead Mill Road who were present for the meeting that he hoped they understood the city council must follow state law in addressing the issue.
“We can't just do this and say we we're going to do it. There are certain procedures we have to do. Or, if we did it wouldn't be worth the paper it is written on because there is no law to back it up unless we do it exactly how the law is set up to do it,” Hatcher said.
Ford said she hoped the ordinance would take care of the problem and told Gray to call the police if they are needed.
Gray told the city council that is cousin was in the audience and that he will attest that it is hard not to approach the people who are creating the noise.
Hatcher told Gray that he hoped everyone understood that the city council's hands are tied a little bit, but that the city council was working hard to try to solve the problem as best they can.
“We appreciate your all's approach with the situation,” the mayor said.
Stephen Hatcher, also a resident of Grinstead Mill Road, thanked the city council for their diligence on the situation and appreciated the hard work that everyone has put into it, including the police.
“Every time I've ever called you, you have shown up. I just wanted to say thank you. I didn't want it to feel like that we weren't grateful for what has gone on. Thank you very much. I appreciate it,” Stephen Hatcher said.
The city council is expected to approve the ordinance on second reading at a future meeting.