A CLOSER LOOK: Loud church music leads to noise ordinance in NWA city

A Closer Look

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) — Farmington’s new noise ordinance came after police had to visit a church more than two dozen times because of loud music.

“We’ve been called out there about 30 times over the past year,” said Lt. Chad Parrish with the Farmington Police Department. “We gave warnings for a long, long time.”

Brand New Church on Highway 62 was where the loud noises were coming from. Residents who live on Pine Meadow Street, located behind the church, complained about the loud noises, Parrish said.

Initially, police officers worked with church officials about how to keep the noise down.

“We even had some days where officers went over there and did some sound checks with them to try and find a common ground and get the noise level to an agreeable level,” Parrish said.

But the loud music coming from the church continued, and citations were issued on May 26, June 2 and June 23, but the citations were not for noise violations.

‘We did not have a city ordinance (for noise violations) at the time and we wrote disorderly conduct tickets, which is the state statute,” Parrish said.

That changed Monday when the Farmington City Council passed a noise ordinance that prohibits any noises that “injures or endangers the comfort, repose and peace of others.”

The ordinance establishes maximum decibel noise levels for certain times in residential, commercial and industrial zones.

For instance, residents cannot exceed a maximum noise level of 60 decibel levels between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Residential decibel levels fall to 55 between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Pastor Shannon O’Dell with Brand New Church said the church will abide by the new ordinance.

Cities across Northwest Arkansas have noise ordinances.

The City of Fayetteville specifies maximum noise level according to the distance it can be heard.

“Between the hours of 1 a.m. to 8 a.m., noise coming from a business or residence that can be heard from a distance greater than 150 feet from the business or residences is a violation of the city’s noise ordinance,” the City of Fayetteville’s website states.

Cpl. Dallas Brashears with the Fayetteville Police Department said his city has a popular bar district and as a result several noise complaints come in.

“Rarely do we write citations for it,” Brashears said. “Usually, we just ask them to turn it down.”

Fayetteville police handle noise complaints by trying to achieve a middle ground, Brashears said.

“We try to partner with our businesses. We are a fun, inviting city. We want people to have a good time, but we also want our residents to have peace and quiet,” Brashears said.

Like Farmington, both Bentonville and Springdale measures the maximum noise levels for residences and businesses according to decibel levels.

Springdale residential zones are allowed a maximum noise level of 65 decibels between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. and a maximum of 60 decibels between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“We always look to see if we can get them to comply before we issue a citation,” said Lt. Jeff Taylor with the Springdale Police Department. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know the ordinance. If it’s a repeat offender who doesn’t comply, we can issue a citation.”

Bentonville residential zones are allowed a maximum of 60 decibels from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and 55 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“We don’t have a lot of venues in Bentonville. We have churches, but (noise has) never been an issue,” said Sgt. Gene Page, public information officer for the Bentonville Police Department. “We’ve never received a call on a religious facility.”

Page said issuing citations for noise violations usually isn’t necessary.

“You advise them the music is too loud and to turn it down or adjust it, and that usually works,” Page said.

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