County leaders aren’t against bikers

Published 4:17 pm Friday, January 30, 2009

Let’s get a couple of things straight on the county’s proposed nuisance ordinance: just because the ordinance mentions noise from motorcycles, there are no county officials who want to negatively impact Bainbridge Bikefest in any way—not Planning Director Paul Soudi, who authored the draft ordinance based on others in use around Georgia; not the Planning Board, which spent months revising and reviewing it; and not County Administrator Tom Patton or county commissioners, who have stated their appreciation for the economic impact and charitable spirit of BikeFest.

Neither are county leaders trying to pick on motorcyclists specifically; “the use or operation of a motorycle that creates noise and/or dust to the level that disturbs persons in the vicinity thereof” is just one of a number of activities that would violate the proposed ordinance. As one Planning Board member stated recently, most people in Bainbridge know to expect the increased traffic and noise that happens during BikeFest and other tourism promotions. The ordinance is trying to protect people living in residential areas throughout the county and outlines a process for issuance of written warnings before any citation is issued.

However, county commissioners could heed a few citizens’ suggestions to revise the ordinance before taking a vote on it. While it may be moot to measure noise levels, as noise is noise if you are trying to sleep, work or relax, the county should adopt a policy outlining what steps the county’s officers would take in enforcing the ordinance. It should not be arbitrary—to cite people for making temporary, fleeting noises could be unfair. If two neighbors—one creating a nuisance and another disturbed by it—have a problem, officers should work to resolve the issue without writing a citation. If it can’t be resolved, the Magistrate Court is equipped to hear both sides and judge fairly.

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