between the right to peace and quiet and the need to make a living have
spurred a re-examination of appropriate time and loudness for
activities in Dare County.
a proposed amendment of the county’s noise ordinance has some business
owners worried that what they consider unreasonably low decibel
standards could cripple a burgeoning wedding industry and ruin
festivities for tourists.
are going to become a bigger and bigger part of this island’s economy,”
said Trip Forman, co-founder of REAL Watersports in Waves. “They
business, located on four acres of grass-covered waterfront, in early
June hosts the annual Triple-S Invitational, a week-long international
kiteboarding event. The locale is also a popular venue for weddings,
corporate retreats and group outings throughout the year.
days of Outer Bankers getting up at the crack of dawn to fish and
patrol the beaches is mostly gone, Forman said.
been a huge shift where the economy is going here,” he said.
Triple-S alone, he said, attracts “tens of thousands” of people ---many
of them families -- to Hatteras Island. In addition to the competition,
the event features nightly parties. For two of the nights, special
permits are obtained from the county to end at midnight, with the
remaining ending at 11 p.m.
fills the island to capacity in a week that was previously a really
slow shoulder week,” Forman said.
said that initial complaints from neighbors about the 8-year-old event
were alleviated when he provided details about its duration, what it
was and his contact information. Now, he said, many of those same
neighbors attend the parties.
think there’s a higher anxiety about noise if you don’t know when it’s
going to end,” he said.
Forman said that the proposed ordinance would put Triple-S and other
events held at the site out of business, largely because of the volume
to the proposal, noise levels between 7 a.m and 10 p.m. in residential
areas would be restricted to 60 decibels, equal to the sound of
conversational speech; from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., noise would be limited
to 50 decibels, comparable to the sound of a refrigerator. In
commercial districts, respective levels would be restricted to 65
decibels and 60 decibels; in industrial zones, the respective levels
would be 70 and 60.
sound would be measured at or beyond the property line, or inside the
home of the complainant, with windows closed, by professional decibel
meters. The meters, which range in cost between $700 and $3,000, would
be purchased by the county for Dare County Sheriff’s Office deputies,
said county manager Bobby Outten.
related to work like construction and fishing, as well as lawn mowing,
off-road vehicles, airplanes and community and sports events at public
places, would be exempt.
said the Sheriff’s Office, which has fielded numerous complaints,
earlier this year asked the Board of Commissioners to update the law
because the current ordinance, which requires only a “reasonable” noise
standard, is too subjective and difficult to enforce.
drafting the ordinance, Outten said, the county surveyed other
communities, including resort areas and college towns. The
decibel levels proposed in Dare’s revision, he said, are consistent
with the others.
board wants the business community to be successful and thrive,” Outten
said, “and they want the rental community to be successful and
thrive. This is an attempt to reach a balance.”
Willis of Frisco, who is in the construction business, lives near an
establishment he did not want to name that has live music. But his
issue was with lack of enforcement more than the music.
just trying to make a living,” he said about the restaurant. “But
something has to be done. After 11 o’clock, they need to shut down.”
said that his right to peace of mind is violated because the law is
got a dog barking across the street all night long, even during the day
when I’m working,” he said. “If they’d just enforce what it is and do
it right, there wouldn’t be any problem.”
Planning Board is expected to review the proposal at its meeting on
Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. If it recommends approval, the Board of Commissioners
will hold a public hearing at its meeting on Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m.
Thompson, owner of Koru Village in Avon, said that part of the problem
is that village business zones abut residential areas. Although he does
not dispute the need for a noise ordinance, he said one proposed is too
restrictive and “not thought through.” The county, he said, is blind to
the “potential impacts downstream” to an expanding and dynamic part of
the tourism industry.
believe this proposal is reactionary to a few complaints,” he said.
recent years, likely because mixed alcoholic drinks are now legal, many
more establishments on the island feature live music. Thompson said
that Koru has hosted popular acts that locals and visitors have
enjoyed, and the music always ends at 10 p.m. A residential condominium
is adjacent to the site, which has a swimming pool area called the
can tell you now,” Thompson said, “the Beach Klub during the day, just
with people using the pool --‘DADDY, DADDY, DADDY! Can I please jump in
the pool?’-- that would exceed the decibel level.”
because so much of the residential neighborhoods are vacation rentals,
there are also lots of activities there, he said, including weddings, a
booming, and lucrative, industry on the island, with an estimated 400
to 500 weddings held a year. If a wedding was ever shut down because of
a noise complaint, he said, the tightly-networked bridal industry would
shun Hatteras Island in a heartbeat.
a former planning board member who also owns two restaurants and a
construction company, said he believes that the proposed noise
ordinance should be sent to a steering committee and reconsidered with
personally don’t think that the way ordinances should be written,” he
said, “is that two or three people complaining should put an end to 200
or 300 people having good clean fun.”
Allen Burrus, vice-chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners,
said that noise problems are countywide, spanning the gamut from loud
sump pumps to drunken college kids.
said the measure is intended as a way to inform businesses and
residents of excessive noise so they can turn it down or turn it of.
It’s not intended to be punitive. People can even keep track of decibel
levels themselves with a smart phone app.
board is open to reasonable adjustments, he said, and anyone with
concerns should attend the public meetings.
was a good time to look at the whole thing, and it’s not targeted to
one industry at all,” he said. “You’ve got to look at what’s best for
everyone . . . They have to be good neighbors, that’s the bottom line.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
here to see a copy of the proposed changes in the Dare County