It’s time to keep it a little more quiet in the DeSoto County seat of Hernando, as the city now has a noise ordinance.
On a 6-1 vote, the city’s Board of Aldermen approved the new ordinance, giving for the first time specifics on the level of noise that residents may have to deal with and when and by how much that volume needs to be reduced.
City Attorney Steven W. Pittman presented his proposal for the board, saying the draft measure was written after researching ordinances in other cities, such as Southaven, Olive Branch, Starkville and Oxford.
The issue came in front of the board after complaints to the city from residents living near Uncle Bubba’s BBQ and Smokehouse, a popular restaurant north of the Courthouse Square on U.S. Highway 51, which also provides live music. The residents claim the music played there is too loud and is disturbing the peace.
While some cities, such as Oxford, set a decibel limit and time frame when amplified sound may be used, Pittman said such is not the case in Southaven or in Olive Branch.
“If this matter is perceived in front of a Board of Aldermen in the city of Southaven, their ordinance states, ‘the playing of any music by a loud band or any instrumental devices utilizing sound amplification in any manner, so as to unreasonably disturb the peace or quiet of neighboring person or in the vicinity thereof is not allowed,’” Pittman said. “If this were in the city of Southaven, there would be a shutdown. The same would be true for the city of Olive Branch.”
PIttman went on to say that in Oxford, for instance, there are different zones with different requirements about when, and to what volume level, music could be played. He estimated there are about 30 homes where the ordinance would come into play near Uncle Bubba’s.
Mayor Chip Johnson and aldermen did stress in the discussions, however, the approved ordinance would blanket the entire city and not just one specific area of Hernando.
“The ordinance the board is considering isn’t in retaliation or isn’t just aimed at one business,” Johnson said. “It’s something being considered for the entire city.”
A number of people came forward during the discussions, including the owners of Uncle Bubba’s, Terry and Patty Taylor, who defended themselves against several accusations of their business made in previous meetings.
Patty Taylor said the restaurant may not be operating were it not for the attraction of live music.
“COVID has hit restaurants worse than most businesses and if we were forced to play music not at all, as others have insisted, it would likely put us out of business,” Patty Taylor said. “Businesses have been down for all restaurants the past few months as COVID has increased and outdoor music is helping to keep our doors open.”
Patty Taylor said her restaurant employs more than 40 people, “who want to work during this time and otherwise would be on the unemployment line.”
After citizens’ input, aldermen voted on the ordinance, with only Aldermen W. I. “Doc” Harris Jr. against the ordinance motion as presented.
Enforcement of the ordinance, which is labeled as a misdemeanor, will always begin with a verbal warning before penalties are levied that would start at $100 and grow to as much as $1,000 for a third offense after that initial warning. Jail time could also be invoked, either in addition to or instead of fines.
The entire document is posted below and was to be included on the city’s website for public review. Enforcing the new ordinance cannot start until 30 days after its Sept. 21 passage.