The Island Packet opinion column on Oct. 30 recommended that the town of Bluffton essentially return to the noise ordinance that was previously in place and use decibel meters to check sound levels.
But before solutions are crafted, we should allow our police to complete the neighborhood survey now in progress. Straw polls indicate there are far more Old Town residents who have no complaint than do. Reports of "loud music at all hours of the night" and "walls shaking" have not been corroborated. And, when an officer responds to a complaint and does not judge the sound levels to be excessive, it is inaccurate to say the ordinance isn't working or that our police are "helpless" to do anything about the situation.
Decibel meters were employed in our previous noise ordinance but came with their own set of problems. One challenge is where to take the sound reading: At the property line for on open air business? At the ceiling if there are residents above the business? At the front door? Do we have one standard for mixed-use neighborhoods (Old Town, Buckwalter Place, Wilson Village) and another for every place else? Different decibel levels for time or day? The fact is the only place an alleged violation can truly be confirmed -- with no leeway for subjectivity -- is inside the plaintiff's home.
Since municipal law such as this can span our 54 square miles and affect thousands of residents, reaction must give way to patience and due diligence.
Michael J. Raymond
Editor's Note: Raymond is a member of Bluffton Town Council