Most folks enjoy living in Olive Branch for the quiet neighborhoods that welcome its growing population and has helped the DeSoto County city become the fifth-ranked Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine.
In an effort to keep it that way, the Board of Aldermen in Olive Branch Tuesday night approved updates to its existing noise ordinance meant to better quantify what may be noise, what may be too much noise, and when should the all-quiet allow for a better sleeping atmosphere in the city.
City officials quickly stress that there have very few noise problems. However, the current ordinance has been around for years and needed to be updated.
“There have been some complaint-driven reports where we would go out, but the question is, how loud is too loud?” Mayor Scott Phillips said. “Whether it may be dumpsters at some of your local businesses and the time of day they’re allowed to pick up. That was a tweak in the ordinance. The other was the actual decibel meter to where you could actually go out and put a number on it, as to what is too loud and measure that.”
Phillips said the current ordinance had been in place since 1994 and was very subjective. The new one goes into effect on Jan. 1.
“This will give us an objective standard to determine what is unlawful,” added City Attorney Bryan Dye.
To help determine what is noisy and what is not, the City of Olive Branch already has one decibel meter that it uses and more are on the way.
“Most likely at some point in time, there will be a decibel meter for the police department and one for code enforcement,” Phillips said, with Dye adding that the one meter the city owns hasn’t been used very much, due to lack of complaints.
“We’ve had very, very few noise complaints and when we do receive a complaint, we will now have an ordinance that we can use,” Dye said. “The number of complaints did not drive us to adopt it. It was just to have an ordinance that was as legally enforceable as possible.”
Under the adopted ordinance, noise levels cannot exceed 75 decibels during the day and 70 decibels after 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning in residential areas, near schools, churches, nursing homes, funeral homes or cemeteries and hospitals.
The allowable limit increases to 85 decibels in and outside restaurants, apparently in an effort to allow for live music.
There are a number of exceptions the ordinance covers, however, including emergency and public work, along with authorized activities.
School events are also exempted when conducted during the day before midnight Monday through Saturday and between noon and 8 p.m. on Sunday.
There are also exceptions for construction activity during certain hours, domestic power equipment, such as lawn mowers between 7 a.m.-10 p.m., motor vehicles and trains, along with commercial dumpster pick up and commercial deliveries. The commercial work after 10 p.m. can’t produce noise over 75 decibels for more than an hour at the property line of the business.
There will also be opportunities for special permits which must be applied for through the police department.
Violators face a $100 fine, 10 days in jail or both for a first offense. That fine increases for following offenses up a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days jail time for third and subsequent offenses.
In other action Tuesday, aldermen approved an upper limit of $76,027.36 to Fisher & Arnold for an upcoming overlay of Hacks Cross Road between Goodman Road and Stateline Road. Bids on the project are set to let in December with the actual work to take place next April.
In an effort to get property in the 10000 block of Palmer Cove cleaned up, aldermen voted to declare the land a public safety and health menace. However, aldermen set an Oct. 17 deadline for owner Pearl Bowers to work with the city in getting the land cleaned before action against her is taken. Aldermen have been working with Bowers by giving her extra time, but Tuesday was the third time she had appeared before the board.
Executive session items discussed away from the public meeting centered on a promotion and salary increase for a dispatch department employee, an employee hire recommendation in the streets department, and discussion with Dye on potential litigation in a legal matter.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.