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South Carolina town says it loudly: Cut the noise

By Gabriel Falcon, CNN
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Island considers whistling, singing ban
  • Beach town of Sullivan's Island wants to keep things quiet
  • Considering ordinance that would impose maximum fine of $500 for loud violators
  • Town is north of Charleston, South Carolina
  • Official says "places you can go and be loud ... Sullivan's Island is not one of them"

(CNN) -- Sing in the shower, not in public. That's the message to anyone visiting one South Carolina beach community.

The town of Sullivan's Island has proposed an ordinance that would make it illegal to belt out show tunes, pop songs, or any musical notes, for that matter, if they disturb the peace.

"I haven't had one islander complain about it," said Andy Benke, the town administrator. "There are places where you can go and be loud and vociferous. Sullivan's Island is not one of them."

"We want you to have a good time but in the same sense we want you to act respectful and if you don't we have a tool to deal with it," Benke added.

That tool would be a ticket from a police officer for a maximum fine of $500. And the ban isn't just for singing.

The measure reads as follows:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to yell, shout, hoot, whistle, or sing on the public streets, particularly between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. or at any time or place so as to annoy or disturb the comfort, or repose of persons in any office, or in any dwelling, or other type of residence, or of any persons in the vicinity."

The town, which is on a barrier island just north of Charleston Harbor, has a population of about 2,000 but swells to around 5,000 during summer weekends, Benke said. He called it "first and foremost a single residential community.

"There are a lot of visitors to the beach 24 hours a day," he said, "and we just need a way to maintain the quiet family atmosphere."

The town council has already voted two times for the ordinance and after a third vote in July, it is expected to be put into effect in August, Benke said.

He said the welcome mat is always open for people to enjoy the town but made it clear loud, disruptive noises, including public singing during quiet hours, will not be tolerated.

"There are probably six or seven little restaurants in the town that stay open until 2 a.m.," he said. "People are leaving, (having) had a good time all night. Maybe they don't know they are being loud and think it's okay. But it's not."