After months of resident complaints regarding excessive noise levels within city limits, Wewahitchka city commissioners unanimously passed a new noise ordinance at their June 23 meeting.
Ordinance #2022-1219L, which was modeled off of one recently passed at the county level, codifies the limit for noise in the city and specifies the authorities and abilities of law enforcement officers in enforcing the new laws.
“City of Wewahitchka Ordinance #2022-1219L (is) an ordinance of the City of Wewahitchka, Florida, to regulate noise within the city, setting forth the statement of purpose and objective prohibiting the making of loud, unreasonable, unnatural or unusual noises set forth herein. Providing penalties for violations, providing for the enforcement hereof, providing a severability clause, repealing all ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith, providing for modifications that may arise for consideration at public meeting and providing for an effective date,” reads the ordinance’s introduction.
Wewahitchka residents have been speaking at public meetings about excessive noise levels, which they say often persist late into the night, since early in the year.
Discussions about the new ordinance began in January, shortly after the county passed their noise ordinance, after resident Jerry Turner raised the issue at the regular session city meeting.
“The county just adopted a new noise ordinance that actually gives a little bit of teeth into it and gives us a mechanism to be able to measure it through a decibel meter,” Harrison said at the city’s Jan. 27 meeting.
“What I’ll ask you to do is if the attorney can review the noise ordinance that the county came out with and mirror that with the city ordinance, and y’all will adopt it here, that gives us the ability to enforce that, because we can’t enforce a county ordinance within the city limits.”
Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison encouraged the city to adopt an ordinance that would allow noise violations to be measured in decibels, and not just between certain hours.
The new ordinance outlines more specific parameters for what is considered too loud and also provides guidelines for its enforcement.
The city’s ordinance specifies that noise should not exceed a measurement of 60 decibals at 50 feet from the source, except under special circumstances, such as events.
Harrison said that due to the role the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office plays in enforcing noise violations within Wewahitchka city limits, due to the lack of a Wewahitchka police force, it was important that the county and city ordinances largely match up to avoid confusion.
“A county ordinance can’t be enforced inside the city,” he said after the county ordinance was passed.“It would just kind of give us one set of rules to run with for both the county and the city.”