Jan 26 2022

Kiawah Island Mayor Tasks Committee To Address Noise Ordinance

By Theresa Stratford for The Island Connection

According to the Town of Kiawah Island’s new amendments, amplified sound between the hours of 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. are prohibited. Maintenance and construction activities would not be impacted by the 10 a.m. cutoff. 

“When all else fails, form a committee,” according to Kiawah Island Mayor John Labriola and that is exactly what they will do in order to fix the noise ordinance issue. Last November, Town Attorney Joe Wilson presented amendments to the Town’s current noise ordinance which was brought up at the Town Council meeting in October. Wilson admitted that some of the wording was “awkward” and that he thought making amendments would address some of the expressed concerns. He addressed the fact that there was a summary in the noise ordinance stating that any sound cast upon community streets or upon the property of another was in violation. He went on to say, “But then it reverses itself in the final sentence and says that this doesn’t apply to certain events.” Wilson suggested that the Town streamline that to: “Amplified sound between the hours of 11 p.m. and 10 a.m. is prohibited.” This change would be in accordance with the Town’s current enforcement efforts. According to these new amendments, maintenance and construction activities would not be impacted by the 10 a.m. cutoff. At the Town Council meeting on Jan. 11 – the first one of the new year – a couple of citizens expressed their concerns with these amendments as presented in November. One resident said, “Before final reading, there are some serious deficiencies that need to be addressed. The communication and nature of the changes was minimal. What communication was given was misleading.” He went on to say that he would like to enjoy his home 24 hours a day, not just between the hours of 11 p.m. and 10 a.m. “The economic and recreational activities must take reasonable actions to minimize noise and the impact on residents. The proposed amendments have ambiguous language of what a violation is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. It is really at the discretion of the noise enforcement officer.” The resident referenced Sea Island’s noise ordinance, which states that it is illegal to play a sound mechanical device that can be heard within 300 feet or inside an adjoining dwelling unit. “Also, dBC should be used as a measurement. 

It measures the low frequency sound that is most harmful to hearing.” Another resident spoke about the leaf blowers specifically early in the morning. This resident lives off Beachwalker Drive and said that the Kiawah Island Real Estate office will often have leaf blowers performing maintenance duties starting around 7 a.m. He wanted language specific to leaf blowers in the ordinance amendments since the 10 a.m. cutoff did not pertain to maintenance. Labriola thanked Wilson for his hard work last fall on making the necessary amendments to the ordinance, but wanted to make a motion to table a vote on approving the amended noise ordinance. Instead Labriola tasked councilmember John Moffitt with forming a committee to address the noise ordinance issue. “No matter how many hours we work on these amendments and how many comments and suggestions we take, there is this question with the word ‘disturb,’” Labriola explained. “What does it mean to be disturbed?” The Ad Hoc Committee that Moffitt will lead will be made up of people from the resort, KICA, the Town, and other residents with a vested interest in defining exactly what “noise” is. Moffitt and the committee will come up with a framework around what it means to be “disturbed” by noise on Kiawah Island. 

“This will help bring a checklist, per se, to code enforcement that helps define what the community feels constitutes being ‘disturbed,” Labriola concluded. 

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