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County Council committee to revise noise ordinance

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By Johnathan Ryan

After all the noise about concrete plants in Indian Land, and an outside study that suggests some of the plants are louder than they should be, Lancaster County Council has appointed a committee to study the issue.

There are now four concrete plants in operation or close to operation at 521 Perimeter Commerce Park – MacLeod Construction, Concrete Supply Co., CEMEX and Blue Dot Readi-Mix.

The industrial park is adjacent to the Brookchase and subdivisions.

MacLeod was operating there years before Brookchase was built.

Residents have complained to county officials about the noise and dust coming from the plants over the past year. They also say CEMEX and Concrete Supply Co. have made attempts to enclose their operations to generate less noise than the other plants.

The county paid Dr. Noral D. Stewart of Stewart Acoustical Consultants in Raleigh to conduct an outside study of the noise coming from the concrete plants. Stewart took sound measurements at the plant Jan. 28-31.

"The sound from these industrial operations reaching the residential areas is greater than normally expected or permitted in many locations," Stewart wrote in his report.

The noise coming from the MacLeod and Blue Dot plants appears to violate the county's nuisance noise ordinance and Unified Development Ordinance, according to the report.

Stewart told County Council members April 7 that the county needs new noise ordinances.

Council member Bryan Vaughn was cautious of new ordinances because of how much they might cost to enforce, such as hours spent on county manpower and expensive reading equipment.

"We need to be careful," he said.

Stewart urged caution and thorough discussion on any new ordinance.

Councilman Larry Honeycutt was adamant about getting the EPA to take action against Blue Dot, claiming Brookchase residents are subjected to too much ash and other pollutants.

"Let's figure out some way to fine them," he said. "Let's make it stick."

Council Chairman Rudy Carter appointed a noise committee of himself, Honeycutt and Vaughn. The committee will meet as soon as possible to revise the county's noise ordinances.

"We'll start the process to get this thing taken care of," Carter said.

Since Stewart released the findings of his report last month, county officials have looked into citing the plants for loud noise, either in magistrate's court or through the sheriff's office.

But the magistrate's court staff and sheriff's office attorney Tom Holland said that the existing ordinances are unenforceable and any charges against the concrete companies would likely be thrown out in court.Senior reporter Jenny Hartley contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Johnathan Ryan at jryan@thelancasternews.com or (803) 416-8416