Some Lake Tawakoni homeowners are upset at the level of noise they are having to endure, which is being compared to the sound of a jet flying overhead.
The Hunt County Commissioners had planned this past week to consider a resolution adopting noise ordinance standards for the portions of the lake within Hunt County, until County Civil Attorney Daniel Ray pointed out there were state regulations already on the books.
But the commissioners still expressed concerns that the noise levels on the lake were causing havoc for those who live along the shore and questioned whether county or state law enforcement officers should be the ones to intercede.
Ray said he asked County Judge Bobby Stovall to pull the item from Tuesday’s regular agenda.
“In consultation with the Texas Association of Counties, it was pointed out to me that there was already a nuisance item in the penal code,” Ray said. “Basically it is already illegal to make the noise which has been the source of some complaints.”
Texas Penal Code Section 42.01, which references disorderly conduct, includes a person commits a violation if they make an “unreasonable noise in a public place … or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy.”
Under the code, the noise is presumed to be unreasonable if it exceeds 85 decibels.
“Basically in the Hunt County portions of Lake Tawakoni there are places where people are taking boats with loud, unmuffled engines and disturbing the peace down there,” Ray said. “The decibels from their motors have been measured on the shore at well above 100 decibels, which is very, very loud and that’s from hundreds of feet away.”
Ray said the complaints filed have come from individuals residing along the lake’s shoreline.
“My suggestion today would be to allow me to speak with the sheriff about enforcing this,” Ray said.
To do so would also likely require the county to purchase decibel meter readers for use by deputies, constables or any officer who would be tasked with enforcing the measure.
“There’s not going to be any question about it exceeding 85 decibels,” Ray said. “I believe the last reading that I saw was over 130, which is very similar to being right under a 747 when it lands. It is extremely loud.”
The cities of Greenville and Wolfe City have noise ordinances in place, with 80 decibel limits.
“My suggestion is to use the penal code section first, and if for whatever reason that doesn’t work, then come back and adopt a noise resolution with more specific requirements,” Ray said.
Stovall urged the commissioners to back the measure.
“I think we need to support the sheriff with whatever equipment he needs to enforce this to help our citizens around the lake to enjoy their property,” Stovall said. “Some of them have pretty expensive homes and have the right to enjoy their place without being interrupted by these loud boats.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Phillip Martin agreed, but feels Texas Game Wardens can also be recruited to assist.
“I believe the Texas Parks and Wildlife needs to come in and do it, as far as enforcement of it,” Martin said. “They ought to be willing to enforce this law.”
“I agree, but at this time they are not willing to do that,” Stovall said.