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Spencer resident complains about noise, gets an earful

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
SPENCER ó A Spencer homeowner who asked to be on the Board of Aldermen’s agenda to complain about noise problems got an earful from his neighbors Tuesday.
Forrest Clanton, who lives in the 400 block of South Carolina Avenue, had asked to speak to aldermen at their monthly meeting about headaches he’d had regarding neighbors’ stereos, loud talk, barking dogs and leaf blowers.
Clanton had distributed fliers throughout his neighborhood asking those who shared his concerns to join him at the meeting.
What he got instead was a number of those neighbors telling aldermen that the problems Clanton described don’t exist.
They spoke during a public comment session that preceded Clanton’s opportunity to talk.
“You’re just sitting out there having a good time with your kids,” said Shirley Faust, a fellow resident of the 400 block of South Carolina Avenue, describing the mini-reunion she had when her two sons ó one a Marine and another a student at Appalachian State ó visited her and they chatted on their front porch one evening.
Faust said she’s lived in her house eight years, noting, “I haven’t had no problems.”
She even praised police response, saying that on those rare occasions they’re needed, they’re dispatched quickly.
“You call the police, they’re here,” Faust said.
Other South Carolina Avenue residents agreed.
Dan Hendrix, who lives next door to Clanton, admitted that at one point there had been a minor problem with a “boom thing,” referring to a loud stereo.
“We took care of that,” Hendrix said.
He said Clanton moved from the country to Spencer.
“I don’t know what he thought it was going to be like,” Hendrix said. “I kind of want to let you know where this man is coming from.”
Scott Hawkins, another block resident, continued.
“You’ve got to bear with it,” he said. “We’re all neighbors in this town.”
Another South Carolina resident disagreed to an extent, noting, “I’m kind of on both sides of the fence here.”
She continued, “I think people are being hard on Forrest” and agreed with him that, “The dog barking situation is really bad.”
She said her neighbors’ dog “barks at molecules.”
Rosalee Hart-Morrison, an attorney who lives in Spencer, said there are animal control ordinances in effect to address problems like those Clanton complained about.
“If you have a problem with your neighbor, go to your neighbor,” she stressed.
If that didn’t work, Hart-Morrison said, pursue legal options.
By the time Clanton got his chance to speak he admitted, “I’m looking pretty much like a nut right now.”
But he told board members that he and his wife had lived in numerous other towns and never encountered the problems with noise they’ve experienced in Spencer.
Clanton said he works from home and said he hears noise throughout the day that others might not hear. He said one of his neighbors played the organ on his front porch for six hours one night and police didn’t respond when called to address the problem.
Clanton said it’s impossible for him and his wife to sleep with open windows because of the noise that continues throughout the night.
“The reason people don’t want to move here,” Clanton said, “Spencer’s had a big black mark on it for a long time.”
He said he didn’t air his concerns to create hard feelings with his neighbors.
“I’m not here to not get along,” Clanton said. “I get along with everyone. I got fed up with the noise.”
He spoke of other municipalities where fines concerning barking dogs and similar distractions are steeper than they are in Spencer, some starting at a minimum of $500.
“If you want people to come here, you’ll look at your ordinances,” Clanton advised.
He said some people said a dog has a right to bark.
“When that right to bark disturbs your right to sleep, that’s a deeper story,” Clanton said.
Board members took no action on the matter.
In other matters handled at Tuesday’s meeting, board members:
– Set dates for a budget workshop and a public hearing concerning the proposed 2008-2009 town budget.
The budget workshop will be held at 6 p.m. on May 21.
The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. on June 10, during the board’s next regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
– Passed a resolution recognizing Thursday as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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