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City council considers tougher noise ordinance

Recent complaints about loud music at outdoor events at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in northwest Cairo has prompted the Cairo City Council to look into its code of ordinances regarding noise.
At the council meeting two weeks ago, City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman was asked to review the city’s noise ordinance and bring back a recommendation for possible revisions.
On Monday night, Lehman updated the city councilmen on his review of existing ordinances. In addition, the city attorney obtained copies of noise ordinances from the cities of Thomasville, Valdosta, Warner Robbins and Griffin.
“Our current ordinance makes it unlawful to make extended, excessive loud noise. It also prohibits blowing of horns and use of speaker and amplifiers, but it appears to be geared toward noise from cars,” Lehman said.
The city attorney told councilmen he was not sure the existing ordinance would cover noises like the ones northwest Cairo residents had complained about to city leaders.
“The ordinance talks about cars out on the street. I’m not sure we can get very far if the noise is not on the street,” Lehman said.
The city attorney said there is room for improving the existing ordinance, but he would not recommend going to the scientific approach called for in the Warner Robbins’ ordinance.
“Our ordinance could be more specific and that would help if it was ever attacked in court,” Lehman said.
“So under the current ordinance, if my neighbor has some friends over and they set up their box in the back yard and play loud music, that’s fine?” Councilman Lannis Thornton asked.
Lehman said nothing in the current ordinance would make it illegal unless it continued for an extended period of time.
“Certainly if it went on after 10 p.m., you would have more protection under the existing ordinance,” Lehman said.
The current law has been on the books for 22 years.
Lehman agreed to make the current ordinance more specific and to bring back a draft of the proposed revisions to the council for its consideration.

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