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Numbers Suggest Town of Boone Noise Ordinance is Working; Complaints Trending Down Since Enacted

By Paul T. Choate

The blue line shows violation complaints per month. The black line shows the trend. Click to enlarge. Graphic by Paul T. Choate

Nov. 23, 2012. The Town of Boone noise ordinance, which has included decibel readings in the downtown business district since February, appears to be working according to Boone Police Department data.

Since the Boone Police Department started compiling monthly reports for the Boone Town Council, noise ordinance violation complaints hit a peak in April 2012. According to the May report (data for April 1 to April 30), 14 complaints were logged during that time period.

However, in the October report, complaints were down to four.

“I feel like [the ordinance has] done pretty good,” said Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford. “It has actually been better than what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to cause us a ton of problems. But actually, we’re getting less problems than we originally would have.”

Crawford said he believed the reason the complaints were so high in the initial months of the ordinance were due to it not having any “teeth.” Crawford gave examples of going to bars, telling them to turn the music down, but then having no real way to enforce the law past a warning. Fines were levied starting in August 2012.

Having “teeth,” along with things like business cooperation and the colder weather causing citizens to have their windows closed at night, are all things Crawford attributes to the declining complaints.

“Just about all the establishments have been able to step up to the plate and we’re getting less and less complaints,” Crawford said.

Lieutenant Danny Houck, who compiles the monthly data for the noise ordinance report, echoed Crawford’s sentiments, saying, “The businesses are really starting to police themselves.”

Crawford noted that year-to-date noise complaints for the entire town – not just the downtown business district – from Nov. 20, 2011 to Nov. 19, 2012 as compared to the prior year were virtually unchanged, up two percent. Only the downtown business district has violations determined by decibel readings. Outside the district, a violation is at the officer’s discretion.

Crawford attributed the similar year-to-date numbers for the past two years in the town as a whole to a growing student population – in particular freshmen during August and September who are not yet accustomed to Boone laws and ordinances.

It should be noted that not all complaints result in violations. Crawford said many complaints end up proving unfounded. He added that it wasn’t always necessarily because the complainants were wrong, but that it was just a matter of the accused not being too loud once the officers got there.

As for the downtown regulations though, the numbers show that, since February, complaints are in decline.

“We can do this but we’ve all got to do it together. And the businesses have been very cooperative. They really have. We did not want an adversarial relationship. We were wanting the cooperation and it has worked out pretty good,” Crawford said.