County commission still discussing parameters for noise ordinance

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- State legislators authorized the Madison County Commission to establish a noise ordinance for the county last November. It's been nearly a year, and an ordinance has still not been agreed upon.

But in Wednesday's meeting commissioners made it sound like a final vote was within reach.

In regard to the noise ordinance, a wide variety of noise examples were discussed in the meeting. Barking dogs, fireworks in the middle of the night, gunshots in neighborhoods. But one of the main points of contention is definitely the Huntsville Dragway.

"The big thing is it's just something to ensure that these noises are not taking away from the quality of life," said commission chairman Dale Strong.

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The Madison County Commission has worked for nearly a year to set parameters for the regulation of noise. The main concerns for people against the Dragway are that events often run till the middle of the night.

"Continue to race, maybe change their hours just a bit, eliminate going past midnight," said District 4 Commissioner Phil Vandiver. "Do some things they've done in the past but make it a little better for the community."

Right now the recommendation is that between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. no noise in the county would be allowed to exceed 75 decibels. That's about as loud as turning the garbage disposal on when you're standing right next to it.

The county commission wants those concerned to know that it's never been discussed that the Dragway would be shut down completely. The plan has always been to compromise and create a solution.

The current plan is that the Dragway operator would apply for an annual permit and present a schedule of events for the year.  This way, the public can know ahead of time which nights will be louder than others.

"It's a give and take situation and that's what we've done with them over the last three or four months, is worked with the drag strip to find a happy medium for both of us," Vandiver said.

A public hearing will take place at the next meeting on October 30 at 10 a.m. At this hearing, the public can give input and recommend amendments to what the commission comes up with. After that, there will either be a vote, or it will get pushed again to the next meeting.

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