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County clamping down on music at event venues; new cutoff is 9 p.m.

Discussion on special zoning exceptions for two properties upon which owners want to operate wedding venues triggered coming changes to the county noise ordinance at the commission meeting Dec. 18. Currently, county code allows for amplified music audible 100 feet beyond the owner’s property line until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and 10 p.m. on all other nights. Commissioner Robert Heiney raised the noise issue during the public hearing portion of the meeting in which special exceptions were under debate. Joan and Paul Prist wish to establish such a venue on property they are buying from the Beauchamp family on Martin Dairy Rd. Rick Hacht is seeking to run a similar operation on his 700-acre cattle farm on Brent Road where he has built a chapel and is restoring the historic Prospect Church for weddings. ’Noise drifting from these venues is like trespassing. Neighbors have rights, too,’ Heiney said. He told of a constituent on High Falls Park Rd. who moved there for peace and quiet and now has two venues blasting music at all hours of the night. ‘Loud music at midnight is unacceptable,’ Heiney added. Both he and commissioner Nancy Thrash said multiple complaints had been made about the High Falls Park Road venues to no avail. ‘Apparently we can’t enforce our own noise codes,’ Thrash said. Zoning administrator Dan Gunter also joined the fray. ‘The Lamar County Sheriff’s Office and code enforcement don’t work for me. If they did, I would have put an end to a couple of these places already,’ Gunter said of the High Falls Park Road problems. In the end, the commission okayed the exceptions for Hacht and the Prists with the provision that amplified music must be cut off at 9 p.m. every night. The commission plans to begin the process of altering its noise ordinance to apply the new noise rule to all event venues in the county – even those already approved. The commissioners made no mention of what good it would do to change the ordinance if no one was willing to enforce it.

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