GEORGETOWN — Loud music and sermons from the sanctuary of a Scott County church tormented Tina Epps for nearly a year, she says.
She took her complaint in January to Scott Fiscal Court, but the county — unlike the City of Georgetown — did not have a noise ordinance.
That changed Friday, when the fiscal court unanimously approved a noise ordinance.
Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby credited Epps with bringing the issue to the forefront, but he said the ordinance could benefit the entire county. He said noise is usually a bigger issue within city limits.
Epps, who attended Friday's meeting, felt vindicated.
"I'm tickled," Epps said after the vote. "I am so happy. It's been a long haul," said Epps, who lives next door to Casa de Restoracion, about 100 feet from her house.
Reached by telephone Friday, the church's pastor declined to comment.
Epps said she had called the sheriff's department several times to complain about the sound, but it had always stopped by the time deputies got there. And, without a noise ordinance, there was little they could have done anyway.
Epps said she talked to the pastor, but that didn't help.
"I can't sleep. I can't watch TV. I can't talk on the phone. I can't read a book and concentrate on it," Epps said earlier this week.
Her bedroom window is just a stone's throw away from the red brick church at 1175 Lyle Road.
The noise ordinance will go into effect immediately after notice is published in the local newspaper.
The ordinance will prohibit radios, television sets, musical instruments, phonographs and similar devices, including car stereos, from being heard through the walls of separate buildings or from a distance of 50 feet or more. The ordinance also includes parties and other social events.
Government activities, special county events and agricultural purposes are exempt from the ordinance.
A $250 fine will be assessed for the first offense, but it becomes a Class B misdemeanor on a second offense and carries a penalty of 90 days in jail and/or another $250 fine. A third offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and/or a $500 fine.
Epps, who said she is disabled and stays home most of the day, moved next door to the church, near the Scott-Fayette county line, in October. She said the noise has always been a problem.
Scott County Sheriff Bobby Hammons said he's been to the neighborhood and has never heard the noise that Epps describes. Hammons said Epps is the only person who talked to deputies although others, including friends of Epps, filled out incident reports about the noise.
Epps said that was because many of her neighbors were afraid to get involved. However, several of Epps' neighbors simply did not see things in the same way as Epps.
Brian Post, who lives in one of the mobile homes behind the church, said the congregation has barbecues on Friday nights but the members are always "calm, cool and collected."
"They've always been friendly," Post said.
Harlan Rutledge, who also lives behind the church, said he felt there was only one person in the neighborhood who had a problem with the church. He said he's heard the pastor from his home, but he doesn't think it's a problem.
"I just don't see anything wrong with that," Rutledge said.
Some neighbors noted that Epps' home is closest to the church.
Lynne Pursel, a Georgetown resident and Epps' friend, often visits and said she would probably have an issue with the noise if she lived there too.
"The bass is what's really the big problem," Pursel said.
Another friend, Janet James of Versailles, said the church's music once interrupted a movie they were watching. The friends were watching the chick flick in Epps' bedroom, which is on the side of the house that's closest to the church.
"It's like the walls were vibrating and we literally could not concentrate," James said. "I ended up just giving up on the movie."
Epps said she hopes the ordinance will bring her some peace. But she recognized that the church is not likely to be fined unless a law enforcement officer hears the loud music.
The sheriff said Epps could also file a complaint with the county attorney.