Church, neighbors at odds over noise complaints

January 23, 2013 3:34:24 PM PST
The pastor of NewHope Church, in Durham, was cited Wednesday for violating the city's noise ordinance. This is an ongoing fight that now may end up in court.

"We can't use our home to how we built it," said neighbor Shea Davis Prospero.

Weeks away from delivering her second child, Prospero says once again her plans for a nursery have changed.

"It's been ruined pretty much because I can't sleep," she said. "His nursery is supposed to be in the back of the house and now it's up here."

Prospero said the church's rocking worship service is to blame.

"It's a constant disruption," said Prospero. "All day on Sundays cops are coming by to do reports, thankfully."

A report filed in December during a Christmas service has now landed the church's pastor on the wrong side of the law. He was cited under a subsection of the city's noise ordinance, not for decibel levels, but for sound considered "unreasonable and disturbing."

"We just want to be the best neighbors possible," said Renita McCrary, of NewHope Church.

The church is defending its pastor, saying it has spent a significant amount of money on soundproofing measures.

'We've done everything we possibly can do from changing our service worship times," said McCrary.

However, the vibrations are still coming through to Prospero's backyard, and several other neighbors agree. However, mediation meetings between the church and its frustrated neighbors have failed.

"The mediation failed simply because they weren't willing to turn down the music," said attorney David McKenzie.

Both sides have hired attorneys in what will likely be a long and now legal battle.

"We as church actually have a right to worship, worship in the way that we feel that we can," said McCrary.

"They can do whatever they want," said Prospero. "I'm not saying stop what you're doing. I don't have to hear it in my house. Just have proper soundproofing."

If the district attorney decides to uphold the citation, the attorney for the church and the pastor say they're prepared to fight it.

Statement from NewHope Church

"NewHope Church plays an important role in the Triangle faith community. As a church family, we love our city and want to serve everyone to the best of our ability, while at the same time fulfilling our purpose and vision for the church.

"We are aware and mindful of the past complaints made by a select few neighbors and the alleged violation of creating a 'disturbing noise' during our afternoon Christmas service on December 23rd, 2012.

"Even though we are fully compliant with the law we continue to try and work with our neighbors. Since the original complaints, NewHope church has spent significant financial resources in sound attenuation, purchased and installed a full drum cage, purchased and installed sound absorbers for our speakers, limited our Worship/Music rehearsal times, hosted various meetings with the neighbors and law enforcement officers to hear concerns, and have reduced the volume of our music.

"Based on constant monitoring of the noise levels, the decibel meter readings demonstrate that we are compliant with the Durham City Noise Ordinance.

"We love our Pastor and are in full support of him and the continued vision to love and serve our community."

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