The co-owner of the Tin Cottage in downtown Franklin said it’s not unusual for a tourist to ask her if the city has a problem with gangs.
There are times when the front window of her gift shop rattles, leading Marianne DeMeyers to ask customers to move away in case it shatters.
And it’s not entirely uncommon for an employee of the Tin Cottage or a visitor in the store to scream or even duck at what sounds like gunfire coming from a souped-up muffler.
Yes, DeMeyers will insist, downtown Franklin has become that noisy. She said she has heard the occasional loud horn or revved-up engine since she moved the Tin Cottage to Main Street 4½ years ago, but now it’s basically a daily occurrence.
“I would say since last summer it has gotten exponentially worse,” said DeMeyers, who owns the Tin Cottage with her husband, Greg DeMeyers. “Early on you’d have the occasional kid with the loud air horns, but that was mostly rare. Now it’s every day, several times a day.
“As business owners, [the excessive noise] hurts business, and also the reputation of our town.”
The noise issue throughout the historic district has gotten the attention of the Franklin Police Department, which is taking measures by leveling a significant fine on violators.
"We're concerned by the increase in citizen complaints of blaring music and noise from revving engines in Franklin neighborhoods," Charles Warner of Franklin Police Public Affairs said in an email. "In an effort to educate motorists of the Franklin ordinance that prohibits both, the Department has placed mobile message boards in many of the affected areas. Officers are monitoring those areas to help ensure compliance.
"We are asking for (and greatly prefer) voluntary driver cooperation. Officers who witness a violation, however, are authorized to write a $126 citation and refer the case to Franklin Municipal Court. Home should be a peaceful place, uninterrupted by intentional noise. Our residents deserve that, and we're committed to helping those who are affected."
The noise hasn’t yet abated much, according to Margaret Martin, alderman for the 4th Ward that encompasses most of the downtown district. She has asked for the issue to be discussed at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session.
“It’s not regular traffic,” Martin said. “It’s retrofitted mufflers on cars, motorcycles and pickup trucks. This is not normal. This is deliberate and it is disturbing the [quiet] lifestyle [of downtown Franklin].
Lynne McAlister, chair of the Franklin Downtown Neighborhood Association, said she is hearing from residents and merchants alike on the issue. She hears the excessive noise from her home on Fair Street, either from vehicles on West Main a block over or on Highway 96 West
“The DNA is very concerned about the excessive car noise,” she said. “Cars don’t normally make these sounds. It’s not from more traffic. Some of these vehicles are using glass packs in their mufflers, and when they rev their engines, they sound like they’re drag racing.”
The noise discussion is second on the agenda for Tuesday’s work session.
“The reason I’m bringing it up is because the residents and the merchants downtown need to know the city cares about them,” Martin said. “I want us to talk about it and I want the public to know the city is aware of it.”