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Mt. Pleasant passes final version of long-debated noise ordinance

Unhappy Girl Hating the Loud Bad Music at a Party

Photo: Getty Images

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Mount Pleasant lawmakers hope a new rule regarding sound can help answer what can be considered loud noise and what is not.

After a year and a half of debate, town council unanimously passed an ordinance to monitor sound levels on Tuesday night.

“The point of this is the livability of our community, so citizens have a quiet enjoyment of their property and businesses can function with outdoor entertainment,” Mayor Will Haynie said. “The point is not to penalize people. The point is to get that noise to a level that we now have an objective measure for, so our police, as they have done before, they will just go out and say, ‘Hey, we got a complaint. You need to turn it down.’”

The new rule states sound levels from the place of where the complaint came from cannot go higher than 60 decibels during the day and 55 decibels during the night, with differing hours for weekends.

A normal conversation is typically between 60 to 70 decibels, while 55 decibels is the equivalent of your home refrigerator, according to Yale University researchers.

Haynie said a previous version of the rule was not clear about defining what was considered loud.

“We needed something that was not subjective but objective, and that’s when we started building in the decibel levels,” he said.

The mayor added that the pressure points for the new rule were businesses along Long Point Road and Shem Creek. One of those businesses is Vickery’s Bar & Grill.

“I originally pushed for it because we received a violation,” Bar Manager Jacob Robertson said. “It amounted to almost $500 ticket, and I think it was ridiculous when we got the ticket. It was Monday at 5:30 in the afternoon for a one-man band playing.

Robertson said the new limits are a good first step, but he is not convinced the noise battles are over.

“I think the hardest part about this is if there is a call about noise, pinpointing exactly where that noise is coming from and how are you going to say it’s coming from source A and not source B when they’re in such close proximity to each other,” Robertson said.

Haynie said the ordinance gives police officers discretion on whether or not to issue a citation for noise once a complaint comes in. Those in violation can be hit with a $500 fine.

“It will take a lot to get to that,” he said. “As you have seen with Mt. Pleasant Police, they work on the solution first for the livability. The penalty is only if somebody absolutely has no intention of working with us.”

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