"This will be our final comment on the matter." Celebration Church's response to citizens' complaints about excessive noise levels coming from the church.
--------------------------------Looks like Celebration Church has NOT made their final comment on the matter of their noisy worship services bothering the neighbors.
Stovall Weems and Celebration Church can no longer simply ignore the concerns of the residents of the Sweetwater subdivision over the noise pollution coming from their church.
This week Celebration Church received a "Notice to Correct" citation from the City of Jacksonville's Environmental Quality Division, for being in violation of the "Noise Polllution Control" regulations. The story here from First Coast News says that this past Sunday the city took noise level measurements and found "octave band violations" - meaning for certain sound frequencies the church exceeded the decibel levels allowed by the city. The church has until May 13th to correct these violations.
How sad - a church is in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of their city - and they refused to take action at the request of their neighbors, requiring the city resources to have to be spent to force them to take real corrective action.
I want to say congratulations to the citizens of Sweetwater. They did the right thing. They tried to handle this directly with the church over a span of about 6 months. They wrote letters requesting action by the church, and received little response or action from the church. The church's written reply to the citizens - prior to the city's EQD becoming involved - said in part:
"We are sincerely sorry if our services or events have disturbed any of our neighbors. At Celebration Church, we seek to serve and add value to our community. We have worked hard to incorporate exterior noise reduction into the design of our campus on RG Skinner Parkway. With these efforts, even the highest volume levels inside the sanctuary are minimized to a level that is barely audible outside the building.....This will be our final comment on this matter. Thank you so much for your inquiry."How arrogant. "This will be our final comment on this matter." they said. Not so fast, Stovall and Celebration Church. It absolutely will not be your final comment. You might be able to ignore the citizens' complaints and say that your music is "barely audible", but the city doesn't agree, and they are dealing with engineering measurements, not your opinion. In fact they found you in violation of the Noise Pollution ordinance of the city.
Stovall and CC, we hope you are more responsive to the City of Jacksonville officials than you were to either the citizens of Sweetwater, or to First Coast News, who you refused to grant an interview to discuss the citizens' concerns. You could have answered this question months ago: did you hire an engineering company to take octave decibel readings at the perimeter of your property during services to prove you were in compliance? If so, you could have provided that to the citizens, or to First Coast News.
It is quite sad that a church couldn't handle this themselves, without the city having to spend its resources to discover octave band violations. The church could have detected these violations - or just heard the neighbors concerns and they could've tone down the music accordingly. I've been in the church before, and it is the loudest noise I have ever heard as it actually vibrated by innards - and I've been to my share of indoor rock concerts. There is plenty of room for their music levels to be reduced.
Last night the Twitter account of Celebration Church posted this Tweet:
Yes, the Watchdog and the citizens of Sweetwater have a prayer request, Celebration Church pastors and prayer teams. We hope your pastors will pray that your noise levels will be in compliance with city code next Sunday during worship.
Here is the prayer that you can pray, Celebration:
"Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that this Sunday when the EQD takes more sound measurements, that we will be below 75 decibel levels on the octave ranges of 31.5 Hz, 63 Hz, and 125 Hz, and 250 Hz, when our cool bass player and drummer is the loudest - so that we don't have to pay any fines for our violations."
Or better yet - don't pray. Just turn down the dang amplifiers. God can hear your praise just fine at 50 dB.