BY TOM YANCEY
In one instance, dislike was expressed for the person who proposed the ordinance last month, Steve Odom.
Betty Hughes, of Astor Bowers Road, was on the agenda to speak in opposition to a noise ordinance proposed last month by her neighbor, Odom, who was on the agenda to speak in favor of the ordinance.
The large upstairs courtroom where the meeting is held each month was nearly full, and many of those present indicated their opposition to a noise ordinance when Mrs. Hughes asked them to say "aye" if they were opposed.
At that point, County Mayor Alan Broyles stated, "Let's all refrain from having audience participation. We've never had that before." Much laughter greeted this statement.
Last month, Odom said his neighbor had numerous dogs that barked constantly, and asked the commission to consider a noise ordinance to deal with that noise, and with other noises.
Hughes said her dogs are well cared for, and kept in two large fenced enclosures on the far side of her property, which she noted is zoned for agriculture.
She said that when the dogs bark, they do so for a reason, and often the reason is coyotes in the neighborhood. She said nearly everyone in the neighhorhood has dogs.
Hughes said that Odom has made numerous complaints to her and others about a variety of topics. She said Odom likes to tell people "what they can and cannot do" and called him a constant complainer, troublemaker and agitator.
She also presented a petition with signatures from 14 families or individuals stating: "We (Hughes and her family) have been accused of having dogs that bark 24 hours a day, seven days a week, excessively. If you believe this is not true, and do not want a noise ordinance passed in the county, please sign."
'Excessive' Barking Issue
Odom then spoke briefly, saying that he is not opposed to noises related to agriculture and cows.
"I know I live in the country, and if you have an intruder, of course dogs should bark."
Odom went on to say "I'm surrounded by dogs" and stated that he believes the dogs bark excessively.
He handed out copies of a noise ordinance that was passed in Washington County earlier this year, and said that ordinance deals with "excessive" barking. "That's where the problem is," he said.
Odom said he believes the Washington County ordinance is fair and asked that it be considered.
Later, Commissioner Bill Moss called on Kathryn Rollins, of Kitchen Branch.
Rollins said she operates two commercial kennels and is a certified professional dog trainer and behaviorist.
Rollins said she is against a county noise ordinance. She said the dispute that had just been aired appeared to be a civil matter, and asked, "Why punish the whole county?" when neighbors disagree.
"What's next? Do you go after mooing cows?"
If a noise ordinance is to be considered, Rollins asked that a number of activities be "grandfathered" or exempted as a non-conforming, pre-existing use," including kennels, hunters, pet rescue operations, and several others.
She noted that, if an ordinance were to be enacted, the county would immediately have to enlarge its animal control facility and hire more officers.
Robin Quillen, president of Ferral Friends, a pet rescue operation, also spoke against the noise ordinance idea.
Quillen is a newly-elected commissioner who will take her seat in September, since she has no opposition in August.
Ted Hensley, of Chuckey, also a candidate for county commissioner, also spoke against the noise ordinance.
Hensley noted that he is the developer of an "air park" where airplane owners can live near a private airstrip that is noisy at times.
Larry Parman, of Rolling Hills Road, who regularly speaks to the commission, also spoke Monday. Parman expressed opposition to the noise ordinance, wondering aloud how such an ordinance would deal with ambulances and fire trucks.
However, he went on to challenge commissioners whom he indicated had said something after he spoke last month.
When Commissioner Rennie Hopson asked Parman what he was referring to, Parman said it was comments made after last month's meeting.
Parman then went on to disparage Commissioner Brenda Grogan personally, congratulating her on "having a good education" and "landing a job at Hardee's."
Grogan is a retired teacher who in fact now works at a Hardee's restaurant.
Commissioner John Waddle Jr. then rose to speak and said that he objected strongly to citizens being allowed to repeatedly "belittle" commissioners during the meeting, with no consequences.
In recent months, Parman has not only spoken during the public comment part of the meeting but has also seated himself in the jury box above the commissioner seats and made frequent comments about the proceedings loud enough to be heard by everyone.
Waddle said there would be no need for a noise ordinance if everyone abided by "the golden rule," which, simply stated is, treat others the way you would like to be treated.
Waddle said comments in the meeting should meet the same standard.
Some time later in the meeting, when Parman again made a loud comment from his seat, Waddle said, "Point of order, Mr. Chairman."
Grogan then rose to speak and said she had in the past asked Mayor Broyles to limit the use of the jury box to elected officials.
Typically, elected and appointed officials sit in the jury box during meetings. By request to the county mayor, the reporter covering the County Commission meetings for The Greeneville Sun also customarily sits there.
Grogan became visibly upset at one point.
When Parman made another comment, Sheriff Steve Burns, seated at the other end of the jury box, pointed to Parman and said, sharply: "Larry, be quiet! No more!" Parman remained quiet the rest of the meeting.
Grogan resumed speaking and said, in part, that she is proud of her job, and noted, "I make good biscuits," causing several commissioners to say that she indeed does.
She noted that, at her request, County Clerk David Thompson had also asked Broyles to limit access to the jury box.
Mayor Broyles replied that "It just never has been done that way" and said that elected officials "have to have a tough skin and be able to take that," as long as comments do not "get out of hand."