BOC considers amending noise ordinance; approves strategic plan

Cobb County government building sign, a vertical rectangular sign with the words "Board of Commissioners," "County Clerk," "County Manager," "County Office," "Employment," and a wheelchair entrance icon

by Caleb Groves

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners discussed amending the noise ordinances in Cobb during Tuesday’s work session.

Lieutenant Pettitt of the Cobb County Police Department presented amendments to the noise ordinance code in Cobb to the Board to make the code more objective.

“What we’ve come to propose on the change in the noise ordinance is to remove the subjectiveness of the officers,” Pettitt said.

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Currently, officers can give citations for loud noises at their discretion. However, with the proposed change, officers will now measure the decibel level of the noise with sound level meters. The volume would be measured by the officers at the location of the complaint, Pettitt said.

The proposed noise limit during the day is set at 70 decibels, and from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., the limit would be set at 65 decibels. The sound meters would be kept at precincts and sent with officers to respond to noise complaints.

The proposed amendments would make noise citations easier to prosecute in court and less subjective. The definitive decibel number could serve as evidence in court rather than relying on police judgment, Pettitt said.

“It also puts us on par with other counties around us in the metro area and a lot of the cities with their own county have already changed to this type of ordinance of reading with the sound level meters,” Pettit said.

Another change proposed by Pettitt allows for construction on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6:59 p.m. This provision was suggested to accommodate people who work during weekdays and need time to work on construction projects.

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid raised concerns about how officers will enforce loud mufflers if they speed away.

Officers would now issue citations for loud mufflers and noisy vehicles on private property, although state code already allows police to address noise complaints. However, prosecution can be challenging, Pettitt said.

“I will tell you it’s very hard to prosecute it because state law does not have a decibel meter reading for it and at a point in time, you would have to have every officer with a sound level meter,” Pettitt said. “And a lot of times, you’d have to get them while they’re driving by.”

He also explored devices that measure decibel levels and capture pictures of license plates associated with loud noise. However, these devices are too expensive to deploy across the county, Pettitt said.

The proposed code amendments will be publicly discussed at the Oct. 10 BOC meeting at 9 a.m. and the Oct. 24 BOC meeting at 7 p.m.

Later that evening, the BOC approved the Cobb County Strategic Plan for 2023-2028. This plan aims to address issues such as public transit, community development, economic development, housing, infrastructure, and government effectiveness.

Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said the plan contains too many components that address matters outside the scope of government.

Commissioner Monique Sheffield believes there needs to be a clear path for the county to move forward, and a plan like this could be beneficial.

The BOC voted 3-2, with Commissioner Keli Gambrill and Birrell voting in opposition to the plan.

Caleb Groves is a Journalism student at Kennesaw State University, where he is a junior.

Originally from Minnesota, Caleb moved to Georgia with his family, where he now lives in Woodstock with his Father, Stepmom and numerous pets.

When he is not in writing, in class or coaching rock climbing, he spends his time listening to music and rock climbing both indoors and out

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