Resident pleads for county noise ordinance
BUCKHANNON — Loud music from neighbors is keeping one Upshur County property owner from a serene scene at her home along the Middle Fork River.
Sandra Lancaster told the Upshur County Commission Thursday that she did not want to make her problem public but felt she had to do something to “retain the quality of life that I feel we deserve as taxpayers of Upshur County.”
“My husband and I, along with our family members, just want to enjoy peace and quiet in our five homes and enjoy our property along the Middle Fork River,” she said. “I know that a noise ordinance is not going to take away these bad neighbors and not going to make them good, respectful neighbors, but maybe the sheriff’s office can support and protect us and hopefully prohibit them from disturbing the peace that we and our neighbors are subjected to…” as property owners who are only interested in having large parties with extremely loud music.
The problem started in 2008 when the neighbors bought the property. However, it intensified when the neighbors moved to their property full-time this summer and frequently host parties.
“Personally the living conditions in the last few months have affected my health and well-being,” she said.
Lancaster said she had been off of blood pressure medicine for three years, but was now going back on the medicine because of the added stress.
While local law enforcement have been sympathetic to the Lancaster family’s plight, there is no noise ordinance in the county that can be enforced, Lancaster added.
“Every single one of them was very sympathetic and wished they could help us; however, they said there was absolutely nothing they could do but ask them to turn it down,” she said.
Lancaster said she has talked to many people in Upshur County who are unaware there is not a noise ordinance for the county. The City of Buckhannon does have a noise ordinance that applies to the city limits only.
“They cannot believe we are subjected to these conditions with no help from law enforcement,” she said. “The police can only go out and say ‘hey, do you mind turning your music down?’ They can’t enforce it. If they (the property owner) do not want to, they don’t have to.”
Some people have suggested the Lancasters play loud music when their neighbors are sleeping, but Lancaster said that is not something they want to do.
“We did not want a war with our neighbors and have on numerous occasions tried to work out a solution,” she said. “They are unwilling to turn the music down and even refuse to turn the bass down so that our house does not thump like this constantly all night until 2 a.m. in the morning.”
Lancaster described how she had tried to ask her neighbors to turn their music down.
“In most cases, if you told your neighbor that their music was keeping you from sleeping or hearing your TV, they would apologize and turn it down,” she said. “Not my neighbors. On the last occasion my husband was sick so I went over at 11:30 and asked them to turn the music down. The bass was so loud that it seemed to shake the house. He (the neighbor) said no, but he would close the door.
“I asked him to come and listen to the music from my house and he refused saying they were going to have the music and I just needed to get used to it.”
Lancaster appealed to the commission to consider adopting a noise ordinance.
“Please help us regain peace in our home by adopting a noise ordinance,” she said. “We would like to enjoy our home, watch TV in our living room, go to bed when we want to, sit on our deck and talk to our family and friends,” she said. “We can’t talk because the music is like this constantly. We don’t want to sue anyone,” she said. “We don’t want to have anyone arrested. All we want is the quality of life that we think we deserve.”
Commissioner Terry Cutright said there had been previous attempts at legislation to address a noise ordinance in the county.
“I sit on the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia,” he said. “We will be having a meeting in January and I will bring this up to see if they would support maybe trying to get that Senate Bill brought back up.”
Fayette County, West Virginia does have a noise ordinance.
Commission president Sam Nolte, who was elected in 2016, said this is only the second noise complaint he had since being on commission. The first complaint was about fireworks.
“This has not really been an issue in the past, but I am familiar with your situation,” Nolte said. “I’m sorry you are having to deal with it. We will look into it.”