FORT VALLEY — At least three days a week, Randy and Carol Hunnicutt get complaints from their tenants about the nightclub more than 1,000 feet away.
They say the thump of the hip-hop songs played permeates the residents’ walls at the Ventura Park mobile home community, waking young children and pushing some older residents to sleep aids.
The Hunnicutts said calls to police officials haven’t done much to lower the sound, and much-needed changes to the city’s outdated noise ordinance have been in process for months.
“We just feel our residents deserve some peace,” Carol Hunnicutt said.
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When they heard last summer about the opening of The Swamp nightclub off Ga. 49, Randy Hunnicutt said he was worried about traffic congestion and litter. Instead, a steady stream of calls came to his home from tenants complaining about noise from the establishment.
“You could hear the words of the songs from some of the homes,” Carol Hunnicutt said.
“They don’t grasp the concept of low frequency sound traveling,” Randy Hunnicutt said.
The club is open several days a week. Those are the days the Hunnicutts receive multiple calls from their residents complaining about the sound, asking them to call the police about the disturbance.
Police would only do so much, Randy Hunnicutt said. Each time the Hunnicutts complained about the noise, an officer came out to check. Sometimes, the complaint wasn’t considered valid unless an officer was allowed inside a residential dwelling to check complaints that the music from the club could be heard from within the home.
Fort Valley police Capt. Lawrence Spurgeon said several warnings were issued to the establishment to help deter the complaints from nearby residents. After the warnings didn’t work, officers issued fines to the club owner on occasions when it was determined that the sound was too high.
The city’s current policy states that sound is too loud if it can be heard inside a dwelling with all its doors and windows closed.
Spurgeon said the police department suggested changes to the ordinance that would provide a decibel level for the sound. It also includes a provision that larger functions where sounds would be higher than normal be approved in advance. Club owners also would be made to install noise dampening equipment before opening for business.
“We want to put a noise ordinance in place where we have a discernable way to measure the sound,” Spurgeon said. “We want to make sure we’re being fair to the business owner and the property owner.”
The latest plan presented to the council calls for a blending of Fort Valley’s ordinance with wording taken from the noise ordinance used in Athens-Clarke County. Discussion on an ordinance combining elements from the two was tabled at Thursday’s council meeting.
Efforts to reach club owner Marcus Green were unsuccessful. He previously expressed a preference for a system to quantify how loud the club’s music can be.
The Hunnicutts spend many evenings waiting by the phone for calls about the noise from the metal building across the way. They sometimes patrol the community when the club is open, checking from different points in the mobile home park to see how far the sound is traveling. Carol Hunnicutt said she hopes the city adopts an ordinance that allows the club and her residents to co-exist without affecting one another.
“It’s not that we’re against The Swamp,” she said. “We just feel bombarded ... and powerless to do something about it.”
To contact writer Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.