What happens when a perceived noise disturbance is consistently coming from a church?

What happens when a perceived noise disturbance is consistently coming from a church?

Rosepine resident, Randal Jackson, said it is not just his irritation, but his neighbors' as well. "They don't want to say anything because it's a church."

He has lived at his current address since 2001, and the problem did not arise until the end of last year, he said.

The Church of Rosepine had planned to hold an Independence Day celebration, on July 5, which Pastor Greg Crawford brought before the Rosepine Town Council back in May. As it turns out, the celebration was cancelled in an effort to keep the peace, said Crawford at the council meeting last Thursday.

"We have different opinions on what is acceptable and what is not," said Jackson, as he presented his complaint to council members. "I have a problem with the church because we can hear music in our living room. I couldn't hear my TV while sitting in my living room because of the amplification from the church."

A Rosepine Police Officer told Jackson, at one point, that the church can "play as loud as they want" so long as it is not between the hours of 11 p.m. - 7 a.m.

His wife has spoken with the church, secretary and Jackson has had discussions with Crawford about the situation. They even, together, measured and found the noise level at 55-60 decibels in Jackson's home. 60 decibels is comparable to a conversation in a restaurant. 50 decibels is comparable to a conversation in a home. 70 decibels is comparable to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. 

At one point, running out of avenues for resolution, Jackson called Mayor Donna Duvall, who, in turn, spoke to Police Chief Delbert Keel. "The Police Chief was supposed to get us together to attempt to find a solution, and this has not yet occurred," said Jackson. It was suggested that he would need to speak with the town council about the noise complaint.

Citing a noise ordinance, Jackson explained to the council that it is unlawful for anyone to play, use, or operate any machine or device to create sound in such a manner that disturbs the peace of neighboring inhabitants.

"The situation is not improving and I am asking for your assistance with this matter. The church is playing too loud and they are in violation of the ordinance. Do I want them to stop playing music? No, but what I would like is to enjoy the peace and quiet in my home," said Jackson. "Where do my rights end and the churches begin?"

"You hit it on the head," said Town Attorney Steven Oxenhandler. "It's a balancing act. The church has a right to play music, and you are entitled to peace and quiet in your home."

Councilman Jeffery Solinsky pointed out that it is important to proceed delicately in this situation so as not to set a precedence where any and all noises are being complained about, and the expectation become that the council will immediately take legal action. Ideally, Jackson and the church work together to find a solution.

The Church of Rosepine has, thus far, spent about $18,000 on installing noise-absorbing materials, said Crawford, who has been in this particular building for five years. He said nothing has changed since a year ago, to make this a new problem for Jackson.

"We were going to spend multiple thousands of dollars to put on an elaborate fireworks display for the town of Rosepine," said Crawford. "We forewent that because we wanted to pursue the path of peace. We did not want to aggravate the situation."

Duvall said, "We got together and decided it would be better not to have the celebration at that time."

"My commitment today is that we are going to continue to do everything that we can," said Crawford.

Councilman Ray Blanchard made it known that he believes people have a constitutional right to peace in their home.

"We don't practice on Saturdays anymore. We moved that to Wednesday evenings. Rehearsals are even lower so as to accommodate [Jackson's right to peace and quiet]," said Crawford. "We have turned down our Sunday morning services, and don't want to be a sore spot in our community, but we have 240 people every Sunday who come and celebrate. We are going to seek the path of peace."

"I personally am satisfied with the solution that you two will continue to work together to solve this problem," said Solinsky. Blanchard, too, conveyed that he has happy to hear Crawford's willingness to continuously work toward a sustained solution.