The Norlina Town Board will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6, to receive community input on proposed changes to the noise ordinance that address fines for violations. The hearing will be held at Town Hall, 139 Hyco St., Norlina.

The hearing concerns amendments that the board approved during a February 2019 meeting that set fines for first, second and third offenses in the case of noise ordinance violations.

Town Director of Operations Blaine Reese said that questions about the action the board took arose when a former town commissioner mentioned that the Norlina noise ordinance had been amended in recent years.

Reese said that he looked up records of past town board meetings and found that the board approved the amendments on Feb. 4, 2019. He recalled that he did not attend that meeting. 

Reese added that in his search, he did not find anything to show that the town board conducted a public hearing prior to the vote as required by North Carolina General Statutes. He said that without following the proper procedure, the board’s vote in 2019 meant nothing.

In correspondence with board members, Reese noted that meeting records indicate that a motion was made to adopt amendments to the ordinance and that the motion passed.

Those revisions set penalties for violations as follows: $50 for first offense, $100 for second offense and $150 for the third offense and each offense afterward.

Copies of the proposed changes are available at Town Hall. The Norlina Town Board is expected to take action during its regular meeting to follow the public hearing at 7:30 p.m.

During the December meeting, Reese is expected to recommend further revisions to the current noise ordinance to make it more specific and enforceable, especially regarding what constitutes a violation in residential areas. He noted in his correspondence with town commissioners that the current ordinance is “vague and vintage.”

The existing ordinance includes the following language: “It shall be unlawful to cause, create or permit any loud, raucous, and disturbing noise (which is defined as any sound which annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensibilities).”

The current ordinance provides examples of what produces noise:

• Car horns

• Gongs or sirens on non-emergency vehicles

• Radios, phonographs and musical instruments

•  Animals

• Grating, grinding and rattling sounds made by out-of-repair vehicles

• Blowing of steam whistles attached to stationary boilers

• Non-muffled exhaust

• Mechanical devices operated by compressed air 

• Construction or renovating of buildings

• Noise near schools and courts

• Noise related to loading and unloading vehicles; opening and destruction of bales, boxes, crates and containers

• Shouting of peddlers, barkers, hawkers and vendors

• Use of drums, loudspeakers and other devices related to performances, shows, and the sale or display of merchandise

• Use of mechanical loudspeakers or amplifiers or trucks or other moving vehicles for advertising 

• Garages or filling stations in residential districts

• Firing or discharging of guns, squibs, crackers, gunpowder or other combustible substance

Reese is expected to bring a recommendation to revise the existing ordinance to set decibel limits within residentially zoned districts and non residentially zoned districts and to update the list of noise sources. The recommended revisions also increase fines for violations to $100 for the first offense, $300 for second offense and $500 for the third offense.

Reese told the newspaper that if the board chooses to make these revisions, sound measuring equipment will need to be purchased for the police department.

The board must schedule an additional public hearing to make any further changes to the town noise ordinance.