Several Hernando residents who live near and around local eatery, Uncle Bubba’s, are pleading with city officials to take measures to get them to reduce the noise levels from live bands.
The city of Hernando currently does not have a noise ordinance on the books, but residents who live close say the city needs to do something to curb the late night music at the barbecue restaurant and bar.
The Hernando Mayor and Board of Aldermen met Tuesday night to discuss the matter after Mayor Chip Johnson added the item to the agenda after the meeting began.
The issue had been brought to the attention of the current board last month, with some residents saying they’ve complained about it months ago.
Tenants who live in the low rise apartment building between Memphis and Caffey Streets, owned by Austin Wilson, and nearby residents, were in attendance at the meeting.
Wilson told the board he previously attempted to cooperate with the owner of the building, Preston McAlexander.
“We offered to build a sound barrier at our cost,” said Wilson. “One hundred percent our cost, to no avail...It’s become a hostile relationship and I don’t know why. I’m just trying to get some relief for the tenants.”
Jenny Neal, who lives walking distance from the restaurant, spoke during the public comments portion of the issue and described her situation as a “living hell.”
“I live within 30 feet of Uncle Bubba’s,” said Neal. “I have been exposed to above 90 decibel readings from the whole (past) year. I have readings to back it up. That’s unacceptable.”
Neal played a recording from her mobile device of loud music.
“This is from my bedroom,” Neal explained. “Not only is it music, on Tuesday nights they have biker nights. We’re exposed to the loud noise of motorcycles, obscenities.”
Neal said she relocated from downtown Oxford, Mississippi and never expected the degree of noise level she’s experienced.
“I pay Oxford money rent to live in Hernando,” said Neal.
Neal added that the noise levels are causing her a lack of sleep, inability to have family visits, and inability to dog sit.
Residents at the meeting recalled when the music venue was strictly indoors at the restaurant, but moved outside earlier during the COVID pandemic.
“I begged (the owner), just please take your band inside,” said Neal. “You’re ruining our lives. He said ‘I’ve got rent to pay.’ We pay rent too, except we don’t get to make a profit on our rent. Our profit is just our quality of life. Our life is hell.”
Gracie Donovan, who lives on East Street, described her efforts to minimize the noise pollution by padding her bedroom with pillows.
“It is hell on wheels,” said Donnovan. “I’ll tell you I have a grandson who plays heavy metal in Las Vegas. It sounds like they’re having a heavy metal rock band in our front yard every night they’re playing. I have pillows between my shutters and windows to keep out the noise at night time.”
Donnovan added she also uses earplugs to sleep at night and watch TV.
“Mayor Johnson, Hernando is better than this,” said Donnovan. “I’ve been here twenty years and Hernando’s better than this.”
Donnovan and Neal both said they felt like responses by restaurant management were retaliatory when they asked to lower the noise levels.
“The more we complain, the louder they (get),” said Donnovan. “It affects you mentally and physically.”
Russ Barnes also spoke to the board about the issue. He said restaurant employees often continue playing loud music from their own personal vehicles even after the restaurant closes.
“I asked (the manager) why he didn’t move the music inside,” said Barnes. “Do you know what they told me? ‘It’s too loud.’”
Barnes asked city officials to draft a noise ordinance to limit live music to certain hours.
McAlexander spoke during the meeting saying he agreed the music was “too loud at times,” but he did not own the business, just the building.
“I need you to be mindful, you are setting a precedent here and it could be a slippery slope,” said McAlexander, speaking to the board about adopting a noise ordinance. “I think (Uncle Bubba’s owner) needs music in some capacity to stay in business. It is a big part of his business.”
McAlexander touted downtown Hernando amenities and appeal for visitors, but warned against tampering with the attraction.
“It is what we call the entertainment district. Yes, there is only one thing there right now,” McAlexander said. “There are hopes that other things will come to the (Highway) 51 corridor.”
Hernando City Attorney Steve Pittman provided copies to aldermen of noise ordinances from Southaven, Olive Branch and Oxford. Aldermen Doc Harris and Andrew Miller said they had not had time to review them in order to make any decision Tuesday night.
Ward 4 Alderman Chad Wicker made a motion for Pittman to draft an ordinance that would cater to both residents and businesses and have it available for review by the September 21 meeting.