Cornelius commissioners hope that by this summer, state legislators will pass a bill that will allow its police to enforce town ordinances on Lake Norman.Commissioners recently traveled to Raleigh to discuss the legislative agenda with such Republican lawmakers as Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius and Rep. Charles Jeter of Huntersville. They requested that Tarte introduce legislation allowing Cornelius police to enforce the town noise ordinance on the water beside its shorelineTarte could not be reached by the Observer’s deadline last week. Currently, state statute dictates that in counties of 900,000 residents or more, county boards of commissioners have the authority to decide which agency they want to patrol the unincorporated areas. Mecklenburg County pays Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department to patrol all of the unincorporated areas of the county, which includes the county’s manmade lakes and other areas.Other agencies, including Cornelius Police, are allowed to enforce criminal law within a mile of their limits. But local ordinances, such as the town’s noise ordinance, are restricted to the town’s actual corporate limits, which doesn’t include the water.Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle said a legislative change would help deal with noise violations on the lake, such as those involving loud amplified sound near houses. “CMPD is not on the water enough to deal with those complaints consistently,” Hoyle said. “These occur at all hours, not just when they are out part time. My goal is to be able to deal with problems that are not being dealt with 24/7, and this will certainly help that situation.”During the off season, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s lake unit works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and until 11 p.m. two nights a week, although hours may vary.Patrols are beefed up during the summer to include shifts from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.CMPD also patrols the lake off the shores of Davidson and Huntersville.Four CMPD officers work full time during the off season, and two additional seasonal officers come on during boating season.Hoyle said the requested legislation is similar to the current legislation that allows beach communities to regulate the beach front and waters of the Atlantic Ocean that affect them.Still, Hoyle emphasized that any new legislation would not diminish CMPD’s existing authority on the lake.“We will simply have the ability to regulate noise close to shore,” Hoyle said. “The idea here is to give more tools to us to deal with problems that are currently not being dealt with but not to impede on other lake authorities.” Hoyle said that while Cornelius police wouldn’t increase staff or their hours on the water, any new legislation would allow officers to do something about noise problems instead of just noting them.Commissioner Jeff Hare said the board would like to see lawmakers propose the legislation during the long session this spring.At least one commissioner hopes the new legislation will be a good foot-in-the-door for Cornelius police to one day gain even more responsibility over the part of the lake that sits off Cornelius’ shoreline.“We are trying to gradually improve service levels for Cornelius citizens, but the politics and the subsidies CMPD receives in return for their lake ‘coverage’ creates an enormous challenge,” commissioner Dave Gilroy said. “We will continue to do our best on behalf of local residents.”
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Town seeks state’s help to curb noise
Arriero: 704-777-7070; Twitter @earriero
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