Harrison County Adopts Noise Ordinance

HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX)--Harrison County residents bothered by loud music, barking dogs or screaming neighbors will soon have a new law on their side.

Monday the board of supervisors gave unanimous approval to a noise ordinance. The new law has been in the works for some six years.

The most recent debate involves complaints about noise from a racetrack. The owners of South Mississippi Speedway off Menge Avenue fear the new law could put them out of business. Although the speedway has operated legally for the past 20 plus years, recent complaints from neighbors prompted supervisors to consider the new noise ordinance.

Hundreds of motorsports fans enjoy racing at South Mississippi Speedway each Saturday night. But while fans enjoy the sounds of high performance engines, some neighbors are less excited.

"Fifty decibels. Thirty decibels. I don't understand any of that, but when I'm in my pool on Saturday night, I can hear the racing," said Madeline Taylor, who lives north of the racetrack.

"When I'm out in my yard at night, I can hear the racetrack going," resident Gayle Parker told supervisors.

The county recently measured decibel levels from several points near the track, including a neighborhood just south of I-10. At one of those test sites the sound of traffic on the interstate was louder than engine noise from the racetrack.

"We're just asking to be able to continue with our business," said attorney Paul Barber, who represents the owners of the racetrack.

He reminded the board Harrison County approved the racetrack when it first opened years ago.

"This is very serious because this is a criminal statute. This is criminalizing an activity that's been going on for over 20 years. If you pass this statute, you will criminalize it," said Barber.

The attorney asked supervisors to consider granting the business a quarter mile buffer zone so the track can continue to host races without violating the new ordinance. Supervisors discussed the suggestion, but took no action.

"I personally as a board member am not prepared to do that at this time," said supervisor Marlin Ladner.

The board's approval of the new ordiance was unanimous.

"The folks that want an ordinance passed are not totally satisfied with it. Those who don't want an ordinance passed are not totally satisfied with it. Which leads me to believe we're pretty close," said supervisor Kim Savant.

The 20 page ordinance outlines acceptable decibel levels and hours of enforcenent. For instance, you can still run your leaf blower, but you could be in trouble if you do it before seven in the morning or after eight at night.

The new law takes effect in 30 days.