Biloxi mutes excessive noise with new decibel meters

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi councilmen added some teeth to their noise ordinance. And they believe that action will mute a growing menace in their city. Biloxi leaders have given police officers the tool they need to turn down the volume.

The farmers market under I-110 can be a noisy place. Bags crackle. Cars overhead rattle. And vendors babble. The vendors need to watch their decibel levels, because if they shout too loud on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and get caught disturbing the peace, they'll be in violation of Biloxi's noise ordinance.

Merle Miller isn't worried.

"I don't make much noise. Arlene makes a lot of noise," Miller laughed.

Arlene is Arlene Snyder. She sells pies at the Biloxi Farmers Market.

"I'm quiet now. But not for long. I don't stay quiet," said Snyder.

Biloxi's noise patrol is after more than loud vendors. Construction sites, pile drivers and leaf blowers are also on a list of 18 noise making categories that Biloxi would like to make more sound proof.

The newly amended ordinance redefines when noise can be made, and how loud that noise can be. More importantly, it gives patrolmen the noise detection tool they desperately need.

Ed Gemmill represents Biloxi's Ward 6.

"I would see no reason not to support this and get it on the books," the councilman said just before a unanimous vote amended the city's noise ordinance.

Biloxi police will now have decibel meters in their cars. So if officers drive through an area that appears to be a bit too noisy, or they hear a boom box with the volume up a couple of notches too high, they can instantly tell if that noise exceeds city limits.

"It's just disrupting the neighborhoods whenever they go through there," Mayor A.J. Holloway said. "So, we're going to put a stop to that."

If Biloxi can mute loud and raucous noise, city leaders say the quality of life will improve for everyone.

The city of Picayune just adopted its own noise ordinance. It's based on a noise reduction plan enacted by Gulfport in 2006 that received critical acclaim from the Mississippi Municipal League. Gulfport's police department has written more than a thousand noise citations since the city started to crack down on noise pollution.