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Neighbors Making Noise Complaints About A Church

It doesn't take much to violate the Charlotte noise ordinance. However, repeated violations can become a nuisance, even if you're a church.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- How loud is too loud? Some neighbors in the Ballantyne area say their new neighbor is too noisy: Lots of people and loud music.

It may sound like a teenage party, but it’s not; it’s a church. The neighbors complaining decided to “Get McGinty” to help turn the volume down.

It doesn’t take much to violate the Charlotte noise ordinance. However, repeated violations can become a nuisance, even if you’re a church.

Elevation Church is a mega church with a dynamic pastor. The style of the service is what makes the church so popular with people that attend.

Jennifer Kolb said the church activities on some days and nights are “loud enough so that when our doors and windows are closed, we can still hear it.”

But for Jennifer and her neighbors who don’t go, but listen anyway, the service is a bit too spirited, irritating, distracting and bothersome. They've made several cell phone recordings over multiple days and months.

“We can hear the music; we can hear the yelling and screaming going on when they are having outside activities," said Jennifer.

Jennifer’s wife, Allyson, likewise has trouble working at her computer.

"It is a hard thing to have to do, to call 911 on a church,” Allyson said.

Police told neighbors to keep reporting the incidents so they can track them. They’ve also gone to the church leaders who they say told them they’d try to keep it down. Elevation Church has yet to respond to our inquiry.

Here is part of an email sent back to Jennifer and Allyson from police:

Ms. Kolb, Thank you again for reaching out to me. Officers (including Officer Cumberworth) went to talk with the church staff yesterday (Tuesday) as there is no staff at the location on Mondays. I have been informed that previously the church has been cooperative and have never given us any push back. I haven’t yet heard what the results of the meeting were…

We will be communicating with the off-duty officers there as well to monitor the noise. When our officers work an assignment in a secondary employment capacity, they do not turn a blind eye to violations that occur, and are to take appropriate action when they receive a call for service.

As you have been previously informed, please call 911 if there continues to be a noise issue so we can document when it is happening and have something to show the Elevation Church when we go out there.

I have been informed that this issue generally starts up during this time of year when the weather improves, but there are no leaves on the trees to buffer out the sound. I will be directing my officers to make sure that they take appropriate action when responding to noise complaints that come in regarding this issue. Please continue to communicate with Officer Cumberworth as he takes these complaints very seriously and has developed relationships in the community to resolve issues like this one.”

--Captain Christian Wagner, South Division

So what constitutes a noise violation? According to Charlotte’s noise ordinance, a violation is defined as exceeding the limits using a reasonable person standard taking into consideration the day and time. Sunday through Thursday -- that’s 85 decibels from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- after that it’s 60. On the weekends, the maximum 85 decibels extends to 11 p.m.

What is 85 decibels? Roughly the same as a freight train, a garbage disposal and a food blender at close range.

“We’re just asking for you to be better neighbors," Jennifer and Allyson pleaded.

Simply put, they just want some peace and quiet.

If you have a noisy neighbor -- anything from barking dogs to parties and loud music, you have to measure and record the violation from the property line if you want law enforcement involved.

It’s worth noting the church was recently built, some of their neighbors have been there 15 years.

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