Tiki bar owner, neighbor ask county to review noise ordinance

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

BELHAVEN — A tiki bar in a residential area is making sound waves with the neighbors.

Mark Kane, owner of Pungo Creek Tiki Bar, part of Pungo Creek Marina on Hubs Rec Road in Belhaven, has asked the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to reconsider the county’s noise ordinance, as noise complaints about the live music at the bar has prompted citations from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. Kane addressed commissioners during the public comment period of their Nov. 6 meeting, saying that all he wants is permits that would allow for music on the weekends.

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Charlie Rose said it’s a unique situation, as the tiki bar is located in the middle of a residential area, and neighbors’ complaints have brought deputies down to measure the noise level on multiple occasions.

“Since about July until a couple of weeks ago, every other Saturday they would have a live band there, and that was when we’d have those issues,” Rose said.

Rose said the county’s ordinance was put in place about a decade ago for a similar reason: then, there were many complaints about the club Desperados, a bar south of Chocowinity on U.S. Highway 17, that regularly played loud music throughout the day.

Rose said there are two types of noise that covered under the county ordinance: amplified noise and noise that’s considered a nuisance, an example of which would be dogs barking incessantly in a neighbor’s yard. A nuisance has no set noise threshold outlined in the county ordinance; amplified noise does — it’s 70 decibels until 9 p.m. After 9 p.m. until morning hours, it drops to 60 decibels.

“It’s in effect 24 hours a day, but at 9 p.m. through the next morning, it’s very restrictive,” Rose said. “It really isn’t all that loud. … If you’ve got a band, it really doesn’t take that much sound to get to the point where it’s 60 decibels.”

Sixty decibels is on par with conversation in a restaurant or how loud an air conditioning unit is from 100 feet away; 70 decibels is the equivalent of the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

While it does not seem like much noise in reference to live music, it’s the proximity that counts, Rose said.

“The main complainant on this deal — his living room is probably 60 yards away from where the band sets up,” he said.

That neighbor addressed commissioners at the Nov. 6 meeting, as well. Burl Brinn, who has lived on Hubs Rec Road for 49 years, asked commissioners to reconsider the noise ordinance; he’d like to see a stricter one put in place.

Rose said a reconsideration might be a good idea: “I think any ordinance like that probably needs to be looked at from time to time.”