Dr. Joseph Curtsinger

Dr. Joseph Curtsinger addresses the Town Commission.

Elected officials in Nolensville unanimously passed a uniquely specific noise ordinance with which some residents take issue.

This month, the town approved an amendment to its preexisting noise ordinance, and one aspect that was updated was that which dealt with vibration. Nolensville has established that there can be no more than seven pulses of “earthborn” vibration traveling more than 50 feet beyond the boundary of one lot in a 24-hour period. The specificity of this is rivaled by Brentwood zoning that similarly accounts for 50 feet beyond a property line.

However, Nolensville places specific metrics on both sound and vibration, and while this seems more restrictive, it may inadvertently make the ordinance less so. The ordinance accounts for how many decibels or pulses are permitted.

“This vibration thing that you all have,” said one citizen, Dr. Joseph Curtsinger, “I don’t think that it’s going to be particularly good because it’s probably going to be difficult to measure.”

Curtsinger has been a general surgery practitioner based in Nolensville at the joint-venture walk-in clinic of Vanderbilt Health and Williamson Medical Center for 30 years. The clinic is on the northern part of town. 

By not including a metric, the Brentwood ordinance simply declares that no “audible noise” be heard 50 feet beyond a property line, which is more restrictive than a measurable degree of sound or vibration that might require instruments to detect. 

“The vibration section was in here in the original version of this,” said Commissioner Lisa Garramone in response to the concerns. “All we’re doing is adding a time to that section just like we have it for all the other noise types.”

Curtsinger challenged Garramone’s commitment to taking necessary action on noise-related issues and presented as evidence the fact that Garramone had previously stated at a workshop earlier this year she would convene a meeting for parties in dispute.

She reiterated the timeframe she had originally set for doing so and explained that she was working on pulling such a meeting together now that the specified timeframe had been reached. At the end of the day, though, commissioners are not the mediators of enforcement for ordinances they approve.

“Enforcement is administrative. It’s somewhere between town manager and our NPD, and it’s their judgement. This ordinance is never an easy one in any municipality in the country. It’s very subjective,” Mayor Derek Adams explained. “We’ve even got some of the language in there to let them measure but still allow the ability to make the best decision for the town. It’s not easy.”