No belching after dark ….

The Boone, North Carolina city council is apparently BEGGING to be sued on constitutional grounds.

The Associated Press is reporting on changes to the North Carolina mountain town’s noise ordinance that sound more like something you’d see in a third world dictatorship than in the United States of America:

Fireworks, outdoor music, and animal noises are being banned in Boone at night.  (???)

The Watauga Democrat reports that Boone Town Council members have beefed up they city’s noise ordinance in an effort to reduce complaints of loud student parties and to create more “peaceful neighborhoods” in the college town.

More than half of Boone’s 15,000 residents are between the ages of 18 and 24.

Other sounds banned from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. include vehicle noise, yelling, and horns.

Violations could result in only a warning, unless the noise is clearly intended to disturb someone else. Fines will $100 for a first offence, $200 for a second offence and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Business with permits may extend the hours permitted for playing music.

Boone IS a college town — home to Appalachian State University.  Granted, college kids DO tend to get a little loud and rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights.   But the details of the ordinance spelled out in this report suggest that older residents may find themselves the target of  city officials.   Animal noises?  Does dog barking count?  And vehicle noise?  How many of you are driving those new silent-as-a-mouse Ford SUVs? 

On the 4th of July, there are fireworks displays at the nearby Tweetsie theme park and in the adjacent town of Blowing Rock, close enough to be seen and heard by Boone residents.

No yelling after 10PM?  So, if I get injured, or if I see a burglar fleeing my home after 10PM, I should whisper for help??

This sounds like the kind of overreach and overreacting we in Moore County saw from the Pinehurst Village Council a few years back.  The council passed an ordinance banning children from being outdoors after dark.  The move was spurred by one little old lady who went to a council meeting to complain about her neighbors’ kids playing basketball in their driveway after dark.

I’m all for peace and quiet after dark.  But if I am going to get a citation because I accidentally set off my car alarm, or because my dog barks at a deer,  that’s a problem. We’ve got a little something in the Constitution called The First Amendment, which keeps you from being locked up over things you say or do (which don’t lead to physical harm of others).  The Boone Council needs to come to their senses, like the Pinehurst council did, and fix this mess before they end up in court and get hit with some really unwanted publicity.