By Bob Pepalis
If a Brookhaven nightclub’s bass is pounding so loud that it wakes neighbors who are sleeping in their beds, the club may be violating the city’s updated noise ordinance.
Noise plainly audible from 300 feet away also is prohibited under the changes made by the Brookhaven City Council at its meeting on May 27 at City Hall. The new ordinance applies to homeowners as well as business owners.
Brookhaven residents who live near some local nightclubs have complained to city police for several weeks that the sound is so loud that they can’t sleep.
City Council approved the first set of changes to its noise ordinance to make it possible for police to enforce the law. The ordinance was rewritten to follow Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura’s philosophy that “simpler is better.”
Mayor J. Max Davis said City Council was going to wait until their next meeting to change the ordinance, but citizen concerns caused them to add it to their May 27 meeting agenda. The changes were made so the ordinance would “have some teeth in it that could remove the decibel meter… and just deal with the noise problems,” he said.
“The biggest issue has been the vibrations, the feel of the noise,” said City Councilman Bates Mattison.
City Attorney Thompson Kurrie said cars driving by with “big boomers” in the back literally vibrate a bed as they go by.
Yandura said that if someone is in bed asleep and can hear noise, the sound is too loud.
Police officers responded to three noise complaints during Memorial Day weekend. Now officers will get to judge if a noise is clearly audible at specific distances from the clubs. The ordinance prohibits this level of noise from as little as 100 feet away, but no more than 300 feet away. Those distances change depending on the time of day. From 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day on weeknights, noise limits are more restrictive.
A first violation of the noise ordinance carries a $200 fine. The fine for a second violation rises to $500. A third violation within 24 months doubles to $1,000. And Kurrie said jail time is possible if violations continue.
The changes do not include noise at construction sites. That section of the ordinance will be brought before City Council at its next meeting, scheduled for June 10.