Letters to the Editor

One islander’s view on the proposed noise ordinance

Editor’s note:  Ann Ehringhaus got back to the Observer after we posted the noise ordinance article. We are printing her comments here.

To view the proposed noise ordinance, click here .

Dear friends, neighbors and business owners:

Some thoughts and feelings about our noise ordinance:

Hyde County has had a noise ordinance since 2002 (that I know of) and 10 p.m. has always been the cutoff time for sound that carries into the community at large. The only new proposal before us now is a specific decibel level for 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. This allows enforcement of what the ordinance protects.

If you live far from the main streets you probably are not affected by noise unless you choose to visit a business generating sound. Then you can return home to sleep when you wish. But for many other homeowners, parents, businesses, and others, we are affected almost Daily by unwanted noise. Frequently we are unable to sit on our own decks, have cookouts, work peacefully in our gardens, visit on porches, and even sleep when we choose, without a soundtrack of music we didn’t choose! This is beyond frustrating and takes away our rights to enjoy our own property that we work hard to pay for, and have lived and worked on for decades!

The proposed Hyde County noise levels are similar to many coastal residential towns (Beaufort, Belhaven and Currituck). Hyde County’s levels are actually higher than theirs, while we have smaller streets and more wind to carry sound.

I believe we, as a whole community of young and old, healthy or struggling, need a law to help us respect everyone’s rights, including those of paying visitors to motels, B&Bs and rental houses, which may be anywhere. We also have many residents who rise early to work on ferries, cook in restaurants and to fish. Do these people have a right to sleep if and when they want to?

If some people feel that noise guidelines will hurt tourism, please know that unchecked noise IS already affecting tourism. This summer, a ferry ticket booth operator told me that many departing visitors said they would no longer return to Ocracoke due to the increased noise. At my own business I have had customers complain, and I have offered to refund their money. Sean Death spoke at the August County commissioners’ meeting about refunding $1,000 to various of his campground customers who were disturbed by noise. This summer the noise complaints came from many areas of the island. Do we just want this to get worse???

Many of us have written letters, made phone calls, called deputies and asked our neighbors to settle down after 10 p.m. We need HELP!!

After studying the issue our county manager’s office is offering a proposal. Our previous ordinance did not fulfill its stated purpose of protecting the quality of life for ALL. Let’s give the new proposal a chance and continue talking as we see how it works!

Thanks for reading,

Ann Ehringhaus
B&B owner since 1984

1 reply »

  1. To view the way the majority feel about this go to this link which is a petition signed by over 1,000 people in under 24 hours. It’s 99.5% for NO noise ordinance. You could suggest to your irritated customers they find a B@B that’s not across the street from a live music venue.

    https://www.change.org/p/earl-pugh-jr-dick-tunnell-john-fletcher-benjamin-simmons-iii-barry-swindell-stop-sound-ordinance-on-ocracoke-keep-the-island-from-becoming-over-policed-let-visitors-have-fun-residents-earn-living?recruiter=12799821&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg&fb_ref=Default It’s 99.7% for keeping it the way it is now.
    I am pretty sure the tourism industry will collapse if we have the sound police giving tickets causing price competition among your industry for the empty rooms……as the vast majority come there to go out at night and enjoy live music and dinner. Otherwise Ocracoke will be just like most other dead small towns on the water in eastern NC. I am there every weekend in the summer and will relocate to Wilmington etc…….if this passes.