Letter: Article should have included science of noise pollution

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The recent article about changes to the noise ordinance stands in stark contrast to several other articles in the Aug. 4 edition.

While Carmela Caruso’s posting about the high levels of contamination in the French Broad River liberally acknowledges scientifically confirmed standards and measurements established by the Environmental Protection Agency and other authorities [“Pollution Hunt: Enhanced French Broad Monitoring Highlights Water Safety Issues,” Aug. 4, Xpress], the Aug. 4 article by Brooke Randle fails to mention the considerable science behind excessive noise and its adverse effects on human health, well documented by the EPA, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [“Revised Noise Ordinance Clears Council in 5-2 Vote,” Xpress].

As with water and air pollution, noise pollution is a recognized public health issue that contributes to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbance, depression, stress and hearing loss.

Another sharp contrast was the posting about local businesses prioritizing community over tourists [“Locals First: Some Asheville Businesses Prioritize Community Over Tourists,” Aug. 4, Xpress]. The new noise ordinance is literally tone-deaf to Asheville residents, taking an unsubstantiated position that local musicians will not recover from the difficulties of the past year without louder, later venues. Because the music scene thrived pre-COVID with relatively few noise complaints, it is a difficult leap to understand how making downtown and other commercial areas louder will improve business.

Moreover, the ordinance totally ignores residents who must deal with nonmusic-generated noise from industrial, commercial and other sources. Noise pollution is content neutral and harmful to public health, no matter what the source.

Brushed aside by the City Council, the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods’ recommendations are based on facts and science. We hoped you would apply the same standards of proof to opposing views in your reporting.

— Rick Freeman
Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods

Editor’s response: Our Aug. 4 coverage primarily was to explain the outcome of the vote rather than the various arguments made by contending interests. Our earlier coverage in the June 23 issue of Xpress did explore the arguments in detail, including those of the letter writer, in the story, “Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Proposed Noise Ordinance Could Reshape Downtown’s Future.”



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3 thoughts on “Letter: Article should have included science of noise pollution

  1. Robert McGee

    We keep seeing (and hearing of) a variety of issues–from Woodfin’s bizarre zoning amendments to Asheville’s downtown noise complaints–that share (and stem from) many of the same root causes. Most of these issues could be uprooted for the greater good if councils of all municipalities would adopt and adhere to two simple guiding principles.

    -Ordinances shall not favor developers and tourists over citizens who actually live here.
    -Ordinances shall protect and respect the health and safety of community members residing in the affected municipality as well as surrounding neighborhoods at all times.

    If you take a look at some of the maps that have morphed into chaos due to annexation, you’ll likely agree that we all share a common space and should consider the health and safety and general well-being of one another at all times.

  2. Curious

    Re: Editor’s Note about previous article. Could links to previous articles on an issue be included at the time the new article is published? A reader might not know to search the topic for past articles.

  3. Debra A Deitering

    The City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners don’t seem to believe in data or science very much. Remember when our restaurants were put on a 30% capacity rate? The rest of the state remained at 50%. When pressed for the data involved when making the 30% decision, Buncombe County Commissioner Brownie Newman finally admitted they there had been no data used. Conclusion: They’d arbitrarily assigned that percentage. So although you bring up a fantastic, professionally-led practice, apparently we don’t lead like that in these parts.

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