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County mulls noise ordinance proposal
Glynn County Commission Chairman Richard Strickland said elected officials have accomplished much the last two years, but the answer to one issue continues to elude them.

"One thing we have not been able to do is find a solution to the party houses," Strickland said. "It's important for the folks at East Beach to know we have not forgotten about them."

Strickland made the comments at Tuesday's commission workshop, where County Attorney Aaron Mumford unveiled an abbreviated proposed ordinance to control commercial use of single-family dwellings.

The houses, mostly on St. Simons Island, are available for short-time rentals. While most homes are rented by vacationers with no complaints by residents, some are rented for weddings and other one-day events that generate complaints.

And it's not just noise from live bands, loudspeakers and crowds that has upset residents. They have complained about litter and parking issues in their neighborhoods.

The question is whether it's appropriate or legal to rent homes for commercial use in residential areas.

Mumford emphasized his proposal was more of an outline for commissioners to use as a template to draft an ordinance to reduce the number of commercial events held in rental houses.

The ordinance if properly written, will work with the new noise ordinance approved in October, Mumford said.

"We tried to look at it from a different angle," he said.

Mumford emphasized the ordinance is not designed to ban residents from having parties with live entertainment and caterers, but it is intended to limit the number of events at a single residence.

"If you have a gathering or some friends over, you don't need a permit," he said. "An isolated or casual event does not need a permit."

For example, Mumford said residents could host a wedding reception at their home without a permit.

Mumford said commissioners could cap the frequency of events held at single-family homes, limit the number of guests, require a parking plan, consider the amount of available outdoor space, establish a time length and require renters to post a sign to give neighbors advance notice of an upcoming event.

"You gather information so you know what they're doing," he said.

Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said the majority of complaints stem from rental homes in East Beach, with 12 of the 32 complaints this year coming from one home.

"East Beach had more complaints than anywhere else on the island," Doering said.

The ordinance could also determine penalties for excessive violations, including a possible ban on events held at a house cited a predetermined number of times.

"You give them due process before you take it away from them," he said.

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