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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

1.06- "The Noise is Back in Town (Hall, that is)"

An exodus of "pro-live-music / Tiki Bar" supporters towards the Exit after Town Board of Commissioners voted to kill a previously-approved "Stakeholders" group
[This posting has been edited since it was first posted... see note at bottom]

This evening the Oriental Board of Commissioners held their monthly board meeting.

A significant part of the public audience was there to hear an agenda item concerning the Town's "noise ordinance." (See my prior posting regarding the noise issue before the Board's meeting last month)

After other town business, the Board got to the seemingly controversial "noise ordinance" issue... whether the Town should adopt a more modern decibel-level-based ordinance in place of its ancient "nuisance" ordinance.

There was some discussion among the Mayor and Board members about the fact that at last month's meeting the Board had unanimously voted to appoint a "stakeholders' group"...

The Mayor started off the discussion by bringing up the lack of any definition of how such a group would be selected to tackle this "cumbersome issue," and Commissioner David Cox added that indeed the Board had not even defined the tasks or time-frame for any treatment of the noise issue by such a group.

Cox then moved to rescind the "stakeholders group" concept, noting that he had a "hard time seeing how this tack might help." Commissioner Nancy Inger seconded Cox' motion, and the Board then held a discussion of the motion.

Mayor Bill Sage opined that "[Cox] is right," regarding deficiencies in the stakeholder concept... Sage explained that he had initially resisted the idea of a stakeholder committee because the public has had opportunities for input on the matter and because such groups are not very efficient methods for developing policy, he had nonetheless accepted the idea as a way to give at least 6 persons a chance to contribute to the process through a stakeholder committee.

Cox explained that he was not "trying to ram something through," but that an ill-defined "citizens advisory committee" would not be an ideal engine for drafting policy decisions... "we were elected to do this stuff," Cox said, implying that relegating responsibility on the issue to an ill-defined committee was something of a cop-out.

A majority of the Board members present (Commissioner Candy Bohmert was absent) expressed reservations about the efficiency of such a group for reaching any decision regarding the Town's noise ordinance...

Mayor Sage offered "If you want efficiency, I can draft [a noise ordinance proposal] and get it to you next week," to which Commissioner Cathy Kellam noted "I've already done that," adding that she now believes a "[stakeholders group] would increase divisiveness" in the community over the issue of noise regulation.

Commissioner Inger noted that a "complicated committee only detracts, is inefficient... [and] we have the resources we can call upon to come up with a proposal," referring to sound experts and musicians who have offered to help the Board determine reasonable noise levels.

Cox' motion to eliminate the "stakeholders" concept was unanimously adopted by the Board members who were present, and it seemed to me that the Mayor (who votes only in cases of tie votes among Board members) had also come to favor the rescission...(though the Mayor has since informed me I am mistaken)

Whether for good or ill, clearly a case of "We voted for it before we voted against it" ...

Later in the meeting, Cox moved to adopt a proposed noise ordinance he had drafted. Cox stressed that this was a procedural step that would put the issue officially "on the table" for discussion and consideration (strictly speaking, parliamentary procedure under Robert's Rules requires adoption of such a motion before discussion can begin on a proposed ordinance)... The motion was not seconded.

More "live music vs. noise" drama is expected in the coming month or months... I'll try to cover it here, but be sure to check out additional coverage at (in alphabetical order):

Pamlico Ink,
Pamlico News, and
Town Dock.Net

[Note: I have edited this posting since I first posted it.

It seems I misread some of the subtler aspects of the issues discussed at the meeting, and even misread some of my own notes when I first attempted to describe the action. I'm not a journalist, and I don't pretend to have any standard of accuracy in any of my blog depictions of life in and around this town and county, or in general.

My blogs are primarily about pictures of my beautiful and interesting surroundings here in Oriental, Pamlico County and down-east NC.

But I decided I had to include the noise ordinance as a topic in my blog because the blog is really about life in this town, and believe me there is no avoiding this topic living in this town right now.

And always remember: I WELCOME ANYONE TO POST NON-ABUSIVE AND NON-CURSING COMMENTS TO ANY POST, BY NAME OR ANONYMOUSLY to correct any mistakes of fact or to denounce, reject, disown or explain away any opinions I may express.]

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