Fiscal court hears noise complaint from county resident PHOTO

Marshall County Fiscal Court observed a video submitted by David Culp, left. Culp is at odds with nearby microbrewery and restaurant Dam Brewhaus, which he said plays their music at unacceptable levels. County Attorney Jason Darnall said that due to vague wording in the ordinance, Culp’s issue falls out of the jurisdiction of Darnall’s office, which can only take on criminal cases. Judge-Executive Kevin Neal stated he was against creating a blanket legislation before exhausting all other options.

Marshall County Fiscal Court heard a complaint last week from a resident concerning the noise levels of a business near his home. David Culp claimed that the noise output from Dam Brewhaus, a microbrewery and a restaurant, has made day-to-day life difficult for him, his family and his neighborhood.

“You can’t get away from the noise,” Culp said. “You can’t go in the house and close the doors and windows and get away from it. The only way to get away from it is to leave home.”

Having tried many options, from contacting the judge-executive’s office, the sheriff’s office, and County Attorney Jason Darnall, Culp brought his plight to the fiscal court. Culp referenced several ordinances and provided footage with audio for them to see and hear.

Darnall, having already viewed and heard the footage, told Culp that he would be upset at the noise level as well were he in Culp’s position. However, the language in the referenced ordinances is too vague and simply reads “unreasonable noise,” which he said is not easily identifiable without listing limits on decibel levels. The ordinance, Darnall said, speaks more to “intent” and the number of people affected, which, as of Tuesday, he had only heard from Culp about the issue.

Because of these hurdles, Darnall said Culp’s issue could only be taken care of as a civil case since the county attorney’s office has no jurisdiction outside of criminal cases. Judge-Executive Kevin Neal added to that, stating he would rather avoid “legislating away to fix a problem” before exasperating all other options, and that the business also has rights to consider.

“I would not want to see the fiscal court step off into that direction right now until we maybe try to work something out at the individual business and the resident level,” Neal said.

The owner of the Dam Brewhaus, Sheri Swatzell, was also present at the meeting. She told the fiscal court that they had tried to compromise with Culp and turned their speakers in different directions, but they still receive complaints from him.

She noted that her business does not play music every weekend and typically stops at 10 p.m. There was one special occasion where they played until 11:30 p.m., which was during a fundraiser for veterans. She also added that part of the issue stems from COVID-19 regulations requiring them to operate at 50% capacity, as well as being forced to operate largely outside.

Culp said he understands that they are a business and that they are allowed to operate any way they choose, but he said there is no need for exorbitant expenditures on their part and asked they “just turn it down.”

The fiscal court also heard a variety of items, including:

  • Rejected a bid to repair the courthouse roof, and then unanimously approved the judge-executive’s office to look into potentially hiring an architect to assess and design a plan for the 105-year-old structure.
  • Accepted Commodore Lane into the county road system contingent upon the private owner to pay 100% of repair costs.
  • Had the first reading of an ordinance to reduce the speed limit on Rudolph Road from 45 to 35 miles per hour.
  • Scheduled a public hearing for October 20 at 10 a.m. on the removal of a section of Walton Lane from county road maintenance.
  • Proclaimed Oct. 12 through Oct. 18, 2020 as Family Week. Each day will be recognized for something specific such as old photo night on Monday, game night on Tuesday, bible study night on Wednesday, family meal night on Thursday, emergency preparedness night on Friday, family drive day on Saturday, and family worship day on Sunday.
  • Accepted bids from Select Tech Inc. ($97,266) and Stryker ($21,070.50) for an ambulance remount.
  • Approved a transfer of funds from occupational tax to the road fund ($241,961) and to the jail fund ($100,000) with a transient tax of $24,494.21.
  • Approved Jeff Russell to Sewer Board.
  • Approved pay increases for two E911 personnel to reflect their positions.
  • Accepted the Peel and Holland Benefit Advisory Service agreement.
  • Approved the Brewers Water Expansion Project ($277,792), which would “provide water hookup to approximately 50 households” that lack drinkable water.
  • Heard annual report on Marshall County’s libraries from Tammy Blackwell, Director of Public Libraries.