Commissioners take no action on barking dogs

Board rules noise complaints should be handled in civil court

By Jesse Campbell -

JEFFERSON-Ashe County Commissioners gave barking dogs a de facto reprieve Monday morning by deciding to table a motion to consider a countywide noise ordinance on loud animals.

Following complaints that barking and free roaming dogs were causing a nuisance for a man, who recently relocated to Ashe County, commissioners convened Monday morning to hear a possible course of action.

After researching the issue, Ashe County Animal Control Director Joe Testerman said any type of ordinance drafted to address barking dogs would have to be very specific and would be difficult to enforce.

Testerman said he reached out to 15 other rural mountain counties to inquire how these communities enforce unacceptable levels of noise.

“They said compliance is a huge issue with trying to enforce a noise ordinance,” Testerman reported to the board. “Most cases get thrown out in court.”

Early in his career, Testerman said the county struck a similar ordinance from the books due to compliance issues. He said the county’s defunct noise ordinance was “so open” and officers were spending too much time investigating frivolous and questionable complaints.

“Some folks call every year with similar issues,” said Testerman. “We recommend those folks talk to a magistrate to get it remedied through civil court.”

Commissioner Gary Roark added that it would be difficult to enforce such an ordinance because such activity would fall under the protection of ongoing farm preservation efforts.

Testerman concurred and added that any proposed ordinance would have to be “very specific.”

In regards to free roaming and unruly dogs, Testerman said existing ordinances already address that issue.

Monday’s conversation began after the board received complaints from Larry Nelson, who relocated to the county in May.

Nelson said in October that “chronic, free range barking” of neighborhood dogs has seriously impacted his family’s quality of life and has left him restless after exhausting all legal options for recourse.

“I wake up often to dogs not just barking for a few minutes, but for three hours at a time” said Nelson.

Since his appearance in October, Nelson has made numerous inquiries to Commissioner William Sands on the progress of drafting a noise ordinance. He was not present at Monday’s meeting to speak.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to table the issue at this time. The board also agreed that such complaints could be better remedied through civil court.

In other business, commissioners voted 5-0 to reclassify a lieutenant’s position in the narcotics division of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office to the role of a lieutenant in the patrol division. Ashe Sheriff Terry Buchanan said this would amount to a 5 percent decrease in the salaried position.

Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Board rules noise complaints should be handled in civil court

By Jesse Campbell

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