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City Council approves noise ordinance

The lengthy Madison City Council meeting kept City Hall bustling into the 10 o'clock hour Monday night.

Clocking in at over four hours, at the longest City Council meeting Mayor Paul Finley can recall, residents lined up to speak Monday night, largely in part to a proposed noise ordinance revision on the docket.

The revised ordinance passed 5-2, with Tim Holcombe and Steve Haraway dissenting. The revisions were shaped to allow police to more effectively combat disruptive noises.

Citizen complaints focused on the noise coming from the Village Shoppes at Madison, home to Publix, on County Line Road and the new Shoppes of Madison, home to Target, on U.S. Highway 72. Late night noise from delivery trucks and dumpsters being emptied were the reasons behind many of the complaints.

Residents also brought up issues with “outrageous” lights shinning into homes beside the Shoppes of Madison, and trucks causing damage to flower beds in the neighborhood beside the Village Shoppes at Madison.

A woman who lives behind Target said her house is for sale, but is not selling because of Target. She said “the noise is bad, but the lights right now for me are worse.” The woman compared her backyard to a circus.

“We’ve had approximately one call every seven or eight days” since the opening of Target, said Maj. Jim Cooke of the Madison City Police Department. Of the 32 calls this year, Cooke said police cited offenders 15 percent of the time.

Attorney Todd Vargo, who represents Publix, and Ellie Taylor, president of Alabama Grocers Association, spoke on behalf of grocery stores, including the importance of exceptions in the noise ordinance for generators in times of severe weather.

The removal of political campaign signs stirred up a debate at the meeting. Mayoral candidate Don Palmer was among the residents who spoke of their disapproval with the city throwing away signs. Palmer brought up Huntsville’s Green Team, which works to keep campaign signs from going into landfills.

Council member Tommy Overcash said while “occasionally with the right of way there might be mistakes” when it comes to placing signs, “many times they are just not following the rules.”

The Hogan Family YMCA was another source of controversy, with some residents speaking up about their dissatisfaction with the YMCA not focusing on building a 50-meter pool as had been originally planned.

A $50,000 annual appropriation was awarded to the YMCA, funds which one resident said should be used to build a city pool instead.

On a positive note, Finley congratulated Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler on all Madison schools making adequate yearly progress during the 2011-2012 school year.

AYP reports stem from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. In order to pass AYP, schools must improve their scores every year.

“I am very pleased to say we are the only school district in Madison County that all of our schools made AYP,” Fowler said. He also said making AYP was “a complement to the community at large.”

The school system was awarded $45,000 to go towards the cost of crossing guards. Fowler said the system spends approximately $84,000 for crossing guards yearly.

Near the end of the council meeting, it was noted the last day to register to vote before the Aug. 28 local election is Saturday, Aug. 18.

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