Madison County approves new noise ordinance

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - More than 80,000 people in Madison County said 'Yes' to county leaders doing something about the noise in their backyards.

Being too loud is now considered a class C misdemeanor and violators could be fined.

On an otherwise quiet afternoon, you can hear the stream of traffic and a few barks on Old Railroad Bed Road.

"Some have several dogs tied up out back. Some leave the dogs out in the winter time," Madison County resident Alex Franklin said. "They're frustrated so they're constantly barking."

Miles from the city, that's not the only noise you'll hear from the backyard. Neighbors have complained for years about loud music, fireworks, and gunfire.

"Since this day last year, we've had 163 noise calls," Madison County Sheriff's public information officer Lt. Donny Shaw said.

Right now, if you live in Madison County, there are two main ordinances you're asked to follow. One relates to junk, which asks neighbors to keep their yards clean and free of any excess junk piling up. The other is a vicious dog ordinance, but Lt. Shaw says that's up to the discretion of a judge.

"There wasn't a noise ordinance so there's no sense in notifying the sheriff's department. They're not going to do anything, they can't," Franklin said.

That changed on Tuesday night as voters in Madison County approved turning problem noise from a civil matter to a class C misdemeanor.

"It could be neighbors, residences or businesses. Anything that's causing a nuisance that we have to respond to," Lt. Shaw said.

"First, I'm feeling for the sheriff's deputies who are going to be inundated with calls from people who want these issues addressed. I'm not sure they've got the manpower to come out and just deal with every complaint," said Franklin.

Leaders at the sheriff's office are waiting on word from the county commission and the county attorney about how they can reasonably enforce the new law.

Madison County commissioners will have to agree to the limits of the new noise law. A class C misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine and possible jail time.