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Stricter noise rules proposed

Brookhaven officials are mulling several new laws governingitems from noise control to stormwater pollution prevention.

Following a sidewalk preacher’s earlier challenge to the city’srequirement to have a permit for his activities, City Attorney JoeFernald on Tuesday presented a proposed ordinance that would limitnoise in the city. He said the proposal is more expansive than thecity’s current noise ordinance.

After speaking with attorneys in several other municipalities,Fernald said freedom of speech, including religious messages, maynot be infringed.

However, Fernald said the timing of the activity and equipmentused can be controlled, such as requiring a permit for a soundsystem. The attorney said other cities had used noise ordinance toaddress the public speaking situation.

“Your right to be heard goes only so far as my right not tolisten to you,” Fernald said.

Board action on the noise ordinance is expected at the nextmeeting.

Among other new law proposals, Building Inspector Steve Moretonand Brookhaven Planning Commission members presented new stormwaterpollution prevention and new subdivision ordinances. They alsopresented a proposal to amend the city’s off-street parkingrules.

“A lot of hard work went into this and it is needed,” Moretonsaid.

Officials did not discuss the ordinances in depth.

“They’re long and detailed, but they’re important,” said MayorBob Massengill.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said she and some other boardmembers had discuss a need to take time and review the proposals.Aldermen delayed action until the next board meeting.

In a related matter, Estes voiced concerns about a county schoolbus parked in a residential area on Chickasaw Street.

The alderwoman questioned whether bus parking was governed by atruck and trailer ordinance approved several years ago by theboard. Other officials said the ordinance was never enforcedbecause the board never set a fee for a required permitsticker.

Officials are expected to look into the situation morelater.

In other action Tuesday, Massengill presented a request for thecity to clean a resident’s yard where a snake had bitten a cat.

The mayor requested the private property action for health andsafety reasons. However, other officials quickly mentioned similarsituations in their wards.

Officials discussed how to handle the situation but failed tocome up with a solution. They planned to give it more thought.

“We’re going to think about it and try to come up with a goodsolution,” Massengill said.

Finally Tuesday, following an executive session, the board votedto name Bob Watts as permanent fire chief. He had been serving asinterim chief since Paul Cartwright’s retirement earlier thisyear.

Watts is expected to attend the next board meeting to make arecommendation on an assistant chief. Fred Smith has been servingas assistant chief since Cartwright’s retirement and Watts’promotion.