October 3, 2022

Delaware County scraps noise ordinance proposal in favor of state law

Sheriff Tony Skinner says a state statute "has more teeth" than a local ordinance. - FILE Photo: Google Maps

Sheriff Tony Skinner says a state statute "has more teeth" than a local ordinance.

FILE Photo: Google Maps

Delaware County is scrapping a noise ordinance that was in the works, leaving the county without such a formal law. The county sheriff told officials Monday he prefers to use a state statute instead.

A drafted noise ordinance for the county would have required responding sheriff’s deputies to measure sound levels in decibels and measure distances between what’s making noise and other properties.

Delaware County Sheriff Tony Skinner says, instead of his deputies having to carry that extra equipment, he’d rather they apply the state’s disorderly conduct statute.

“I think it has more teeth. It is jailable – it’s a misdemeanor. You know, it doesn’t have any time of day. It doesn’t have to be at night or day," Skinner said. "This state statute actually applies on private property just as in public property.”

The state statute calls out people who “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally,” fight, make unreasonable noise, or disrupt a lawful gathering. Depending on the circumstances, charges can escalate to a felony.

For disruptive barking dogs, Skinner reminded commissioners that the county already has an ordinance covering dogs.

Two of the three commissioners are law enforcement officials, and all agreed to drop the drafted ordinance. President Sherry Riggin put it simply.

“Just be a good neighbor,” Riggin said.

Municipalities within counties can pass their own noise ordinances. Muncie has one. And the city’s Board of Works is considering a request from Muncie police and fire officials to stop giving so many late-night exemptions to the ordinance, because of safety concerns in the college town.

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