After wrestling with the idea for over three months, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners agreed on Thursday to send a proposed noise ordinance draft to public hearings for comments.
The hearings are scheduled for March 19 and April 2 and will take place during the board’s regular called meetings.
Following community input and concern over excessive noise from ATVs, the board directed the county’s code enforcement division to study the complaints and address the issues in a preliminary noise ordinance draft to be presented back to the board.
With assistance from the sheriff’s office and the county attorney, Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Irvin drafted an ordinance “to establish regulations regarding the generation of noise which in its nature could adversely effect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Dawson County.”
The draft outlined 11 specific prohibitions including limited hours of operation for loudspeakers and sound amplifiers, construction and demolition, powered motor vehicles, emergency signaling devices and commercial garbage collection, among others.
Violations would be handled as civil issues and prosecuted in magistrate court, with fines not exceeding $1,000 per violation. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Dawson County Code Enforcement Office would enforce the ordinance, according to the draft.
If approved, the ordinance would only support unincorporated Dawson County, which does not include the city of Dawsonville.
At the board’s request, the draft was made available to the public on the county’s Web site, along with an online survey regarding the draft.
Of the more than 7,000 hits to the county’s site between Dec. 19 and Jan. 6, only three visitors participated in the survey, Irvin told the commissioners last week.
The three comments made in the survey have since been addressed in the drafted ordinance, he said.
District 3 Commissioner Mike Connor said he would like to hear more public input on the proposed ordinance, which does not address the various regions of the county and could have the potential to give “the sheriff’s office too much control” where enforcement is concerned.
District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon said in no uncertain terms would he vote to approve a noise ordinance the sheriff’s office did not support or did not believe they could adequately enforce.
“Sheriffs in Georgia have wide discretion about what they send their deputies out to do. They have to balance resources with the pressing needs of the day,” Pichon said. “I want them working on the most important things first. I will not vote for any ordinance, which the sheriff’s department has not reviewed and is in general agreement that it can be reasonably enforced. We should value and respect that professional judgment.”
Sheriff Carlisle said his team has reviewed the proposed draft, which he said is enforceable as written. “The way I see it, you start off with something you can enforce, and if it turns out you have to put more teeth into it later, then you do it. But we should see how this works,” he said.
If significant changes to the draft result from the public hearings, County Attorney Joey Homans said it would be customary to hold one more public hearing before the board would vote to either approve or deny the ordinance.
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