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Statesboro restores its Noise Ordinance 7 months after accidentally repealing it
Charles Penny first day
Statesboro City Manager Charles W. Penny

A little known, seven-month opportunity for Statesboro residents to keep neighbors awake all hours by playing loud music, tearing out walls or harboring loudly squawking birds or barking dogs, et cetera, without risk of a criminal citation has passed. City Council on Tuesday evening reinstated the city’s Noise Ordinance, after inadvertently repealing it last fall.

The legislative accident occurred with the adoption – council’s final vote of approval came on Sept. 19 – of a Unified Development Code, or UDC, which had been months in the making. Most of the attention from city staff members and the consulting firm TSW was on replacement of Statesboro’s previous, outmoded zoning regulations with some new zoning categories and rules that allow for things such as new mixed-use development and “infill” construction of housing on vacant lots or to replace dilapidated structures in older neighborhoods.

But the old sections of Statesboro’s Code of Ordinances that the UDC replaced also included the old Noise Ordinance, as nobody noticed at the time. But the UDC did not contain a new city law limiting noise, as City Manager Charles Penny explained as part of Tuesday’s 3:30 p.m. mayor and council work session.

“When we did Unified Development Code ordinance, the document was well over 400, maybe 500 pages,” Penny said to the elected officials. “The Noise Ordinance was inadvertently removed, and what we need to get you to do is readopt the old Noise Ordinance so that we can get that back on the books, so … we have the ability to enforce the Noise Ordinance.

“Now, the Noise Ordinance probably needs to be rewritten, but that ain’t what we want to do today,” he added. “We just simply want to readopt what was in existence, and the staff will work on a plan to address the rewrite of that ordinance, and we’ll bring that back to you later.”

The ordinance “recodification” was then on the agenda for late in the council’s regular meeting, which followed at 5:30 p.m.

City Attorney Cain Smith was away for a medical reason, but Ben Perkins, a partner with Oliver Maner LLP law firm in Savannah, substituted as the Statesboro Council’s legal advisor for the meeting.


Immediately back in force

Penny recommended that the council “forgo the formality” of its usual procedure that calls for first and second readings of an ordinance or amendment at two separate meetings before final adoption, and Perkins cited the procedural ordinance subsection that allows it. Section 2-2-4 (e) states: “Upon recommendation of city staff and unanimous vote of quorum of mayor and council the formalities contained herein may be waived.”

Both a motion and a second to suspend the “formalities” of the first and second reading and a motion and a second to reinstate the previous noise ordinance immediately were approved by 5-0 votes of the council members. Councilmen Phil Boyum and John Riggs attended via teleconferencing, and Councilwomen Shari Barr, Paulette Chavers and Ginny Hendley were there in person, as was Mayor Jonathan McCollar.


General noise prohibition

“It shall be unlawful for any person to make, continue, or cause to be made or continued any excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others, within the limits of the city,” is the general prohibition statement of the old, for now restored, Noise Ordinance.

But that follows a list of definitions, and the ordinance also contains specific rules for “horns, signaling devices, etc.,” “radios, phonographs, etc.,” loudspeakers and amplifiers for advertising (generally prohibited), “sales by ‘hawking’ or ‘barking’” (also prohibited), loud animals and birds, loading and unloading (prohibited between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. if they cause disturbance in residential or “sensitive” areas) and construction, demolition or repair of buildings (generally allowed only between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. on “week days,” “except in case of urgent necessity” and requiring a permit in that case.

The enforcement section calls for a fine of at least $50 or at least 10 days in jail for “any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions” and states that “every day a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.”


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