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Town council upholds visitors' noise tickets
Updated on: 08.16.13

In June, the Nashville Town Council upheld a ticket to a local man for violating the noise ordinance with a car stereo.

Last night, the council upheld five of them issued to visitors for motorcycle noise -- the first known visitors to fight tickets under an updated ordinance.

The five men were riding in two separate groups of motorcycles through Nashville in July.

One, from Washington, Ind., was pulled over by the town marshal.

The other four, from Indianapolis, were pulled over by Nashville Reserve Officer Tomas Perez on a bicycle.

All were cited for revving the engine or “racking” the throttle and for having a modified exhaust system -- all of which are against the Nashville noise ordinance since an updated version was passed last fall.

Ernesto Morin Jr., one of four Indianapolis motorcycle club members who were cited in July, asked that the town council let them off with a warning.

He said he didn’t see any noise ordinance signs posted along State Road 135 when they visited. But on their way into town before the council meeting via State Road 46, he noticed one sign, obstructed by shrubbery.

Ryan Thomas, who rode his Harley in from Washington with a large group, said the same thing.

“I wish I was warned so I could tell the group to keep it down,” Thomas said. “We’ve all got carburetor motorcycles, so if our spark plugs foul out, it just happens.”

The officers testified that the riders from both groups were ticketed for purposely making noise they considered to be excessive, not simply for riding through town in a loud vehicle.

After the updated noise ordinance was passed, no more signs were posted in town, said Town Superintendent Roger Bush. But town council Vice President Charles “Buzz” King said mention of the noise ordinance was made in several biker magazines.

Another representative of the Indianapolis club said he’d already posted news of his Nashville noise ticket on the Internet. He claimed that a number of riders from motorcycle clubs said they’d also been ticketed here, suggesting that “it’s a profile thing.”

“We’re not against the bikes; we’re against the noise,” council member Jane Gore said.

Town Marshal Stephanie Hess reported that from April through mid-July, only 10 tickets have been issued in town, for vehicle noise or any other type.

“It’s not a huge thing that we’re writing out tickets,” council member Arthur Omberg said.

Both riders also said they were unaware that their motorcycles had illegal parts.

King, thumbing through a motorcycle accessories magazine, told both speakers that the after-market parts they said they had carried a warning that they are not EPA regulation noise-compliant, and to check local noise ordinances.

Morin said he planned to consult with a lawyer, with whom he’d already discussed the noise ticket. He asked how to appeal.

“Motorcycles put a lot of money in this town,” said one unidentified member of his group, as Morin guided him out of the room.

Thomas said he understood the need for an ordinance, but, he added, “if the bad news keeps getting around where everybody’s getting a noise ticket -- there’s probably 10,000 bikes here on a weekend. I know you guys are trying to put the law down, but maybe a few warnings out there first would help, because ... it's just kind of making me bitter, a little bit, to come back. Because, I mean, I’m not going to change my pipes.”

“We want to have Nashville a pleasant experience for all my guests," Omberg said. "We’re not trying to discourage any one particular group, because we can ill afford to isolate any particular group. That’s why in only four or five months, there have only been about 10-12 tickets written, and, like you said, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles that come down here."

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

Writer's note: This story has been corrected. King did not state at the meeting that the town placed notices in biker magazines about the noise ordinance. His statement at the meeting was: "So you didn’t hear all the publicity about this when we did it? It was in all the biker magazines."

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