Rockmart City Council October 2019

The Rockmart City Council gathered earlier on Oct. 8 for their regular session.

The Rockmart Council has been busy updating its ordinances, and with the approval of new regulations surrounding both loud noises and urban camping in city limits, Rockmart is looking to become a more peaceful place to live.

The city has always regulated activities and technology that creates loud noises, but feeling the ordinance had become too lax, citizens began appearing during council meetings as delegates to issue complaints and ask for change.

Now, hearing the residents, the council has extended the ordinance’s coverage to prohibit the use of various sound-amplifying devices and loud vehicles within certain distances from homes.

“It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or permit to be operated in the City any sound-amplifying devices or equipment for any purpose whatever (with the exception of home amplifying equipment that does not allow loud and raucous noise to emanate from the equipment) whether the same is stationary or operated from a vehicle, unless a permit has been obtained from the chief of police,” the ordinance reads. “Any person to whom a permit has been issued under this section who causes or permits loud and raucous noises shall subject the permit to immediate revocation and be subject to the penalties of Section 1-7 of the Code. Further, it shall be unlawful for any person to make any loud and raucous noise to the disturbance of the peace.”

The ordinance also mentions that no one is permitted to undergo the operation of any vehicle in any manner that would disturb individuals in homes within 250 feet of that vehicle, nor are they allowed to keep a vehicle’s engine running on any public street or public or private property in a way that the noise, fumes, vibrations, or other engine effects would disturb those in a home within 250 feet of the vehicle.

Alternatively, calls for urban camping regulations started from the top.

Director of Community Development Stacey Smith mentioned that since many areas neighboring Polk were planning to or had recently adopted ordinances pertaining to the issue, Rockmart could potentially become an over-centralized hub for urban camping if they failed to introduce one of their own.

The document, approved during the group’s October 8 meeting, simply prohibits individuals from camping in public areas and interfering with the coming and going of people into any building, private property, or public area unless the individual has received valid permits and permissions beforehand.

However, it’s important to recognize how terms like camping and public area are recognized in the ordinance. In this instance, camping means using an area for living-accommodation purposes such as sleeping, sleeping activities, storing personal property, making a fire, carrying on cooking activities, using a tent or preparing other structures for habitation — among others.

Interfering with the coming and going of people, in this case referred to as ingress or egress, is defined as camping, storing personal property, standing, sitting, lying down, using personal property, or performing any other activity on buildings driveways, streets, alleys, or any other real property that has a limited number of entrances or exits – regardless of whether the property is owned by the city, a private owner, or another public entity.

So, an individual would be in violation of the ordinance if they performed the above activities on public areas defined as locations where the public or a substantial group of people has rightful access to.

These include, but are not limited to, streets, highways, roadways, bridges, sidewalks, alleys, parking lots, decks, plazas, parks, playgrounds, schools, and various others.

It’s important to recognize that citizens can still camp in actual designated camping areas or any area they’ve been given valid permission to, and the storing of personal property would only become a violation if left unattended for more than a hour.

It also doesn’t apply to bicycles that are parked in designated parking areas.

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