• Me Versus You: Your Rights End Where Mine Begin

    By Staff
    May 24, 2016

    In the City of Johns Creek, there is a very interesting battle taking shape over a proposed noise ordinance which is meant to address sound(and the sound waves that generate vibrations) from a commercial business, which is detrimental to the homeowners nearby.

    At first glance, it would seem to be a rather easy situation to address.  There are the usual questions people like to discuss:

    Should residents next to a commercial property expect to hear silence?

    Does the commercial property owner have a right to do business?

    What is an acceptable level of sound one should be expected to tolerate?

    The list could actually be somewhat endless.  Why?  Because in this day and age, too many parties want to do as little as legally possible.  They choose not to remedy the harm they have caused to another party, and will try to as little as law mandates.

    That is a shame.

    Are we in a society where we wait for the government to tell us what is the right thing to do? Apparently so.  This issue has dragged on for two years.  Children go without sleep on school nights.  People cannot enjoy their own homes more than half the evenings in a week.

    I can empathize.  I live in the same neighborhood as those affected, although I cannot hear the music or the vibrations from my home.  What I have struggled with for the last ten years pales in comparison, yet is along the same lines.  Lawn care companies have arrived on my street on Mondays and Fridays and just after 7:00 am have started with the relentless leaf blowers and lawn mowers.  Because they do multiple homes, this goes on for hours.  Twice a week.

    I am a night person.  The intrusion of sound is more than disturbing for me.  So I can only imagine how terrible it is for my neighbors.

    I even heard several of my neighbors speak for the establishment in question.  I have been there myself and enjoyed it. I heard City Council members speak out about what might be a remedy and what it might cost. I heard supporters speak out on the venue about the money invested by the owners.

    They seem to be forgetting one thing.  We are talking about rights.  As a Libertarian I am a firm and complete believer in rights.  And in this case, even if it was just one home with one resident being negatively affected, it is one home too many.

    Individual rights are the cornerstone of the American system of justice.  And despite how it appears at times, we are not granted “more” rights because we are part of a group.  That may be the way inept politicians have attempted to deal with things, but it was a boneheaded approach and should be reversed.

    Because the individual has rights, they must be protected even IF another party suffers material losses.

    Why?  That’s simple.  In this case the business had the burden of making sure that they did not violate the rights of anyone as they went into business.  Was it up to the homeowners to make sure the business did their due diligence before opening?  No.  That rests completely with the business.

    Sure, it sucks for the business.  But that is their job and not the job of the residents.

    We cannot have a society where we look at some residents and say “you must make a sacrifice because there are more of us than you, and we want it”.  Especially when it is a for profit business at the expense of your residents.

    Were I to be causing damages to my neighbors, I would not wait for a law to be passed to address it and tell them tough luck.  I would do all within my power to remedy the situation on my own.

    The City Council of Johns Creek needs to start with one basic purpose:  protect the rights that come with the property for BOTH parties.

    Unfortunately, for the business involved, one does not get the right to generate vibrations which are then sent into the homes of neighbor, which then reduce the rights of the homeowners to enjoy their own property.

    If the homeowners had some way to reduce the rights of the business to operate to the full enjoyment of the business, we’d have already been in court and had this situation resolved.

    Rights start with the individual.  Another party does not have the “right” to diminish your rights for the benefit of themselves.  To do so would effectively eliminate our way of life.  We’d have mob rule on every issue.

    In this instance, the business did not and does not have the right to send sound waves and vibrations trespassing into the neighboring homes.  Yet they have been doing so for two years.

    The business can do the right thing before the City Council takes action, or they can wait and be forced to take action.  The choice is theirs.

    Ask yourself this question: If your next door neighbor suddenly got a dog that barked from 9:00 p.m to 1:00 a.m., how long would you tolerate it?

    Would it matter that the dog won dog shows and was popular with others who did not live next door?


    When the battle becomes Me Versus You, no one is entitled to more rights at the expense of the other party.

    Equal treatment under the law is easy to enforce, once you remember the law is based on individual rights.

    I’ve heard some say that the someone will win here and someone will lose.  That is the wrong conclusion.  If the rights of the homeowners are not upheld, then we will all be losers.

    We will learn rather quickly that the rights we know we should have and thought we had, that they are only give to us by government, and not protected by our government.



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    K. Bogle

    Good article

    Richard Loehn

    Prior to my retirement I was responsible a significant section of a Fortune 50 corporation that was in the position of negatively impacting the health and well being of others if poor decisions were made, negligence occurs, as well as a myriad of other reasons. An individual citizen, be they employee or neighbor had the right and did file OSHA complaints. Receipt of such a document from OSHA would send a cold wave of chills throughout the organization and resolution of the issue was of prominent importance and handled with extreme dispatch. Two years???? Don't think so......more like two months at best.
    That would have been cause for my unplanned early retirement,
    Has governmental oversight on those situations disappeared ? If not, then why haven't the parties in question filed such a charge and taken this problem out of the hands of those incapable of achieving a resolution?


    I don't think it is that 'cut and dried'. Wouldn't it depend somewhat upon which came first, the business or the homeowner and whether the business had increased the level of noise from when the homeowner moved in? Is this situation similar to someone buying a house near an airport and then complaining about the noise the aircraft make.! Isn't it also the homeowners responsibility to do their due diligence prior to buying a property to ensure that they can live comfortably in the environment, bearing in mind that the situation could change if they back onto commercially zoned property.

    Higgs Boson

    Chris, the Medlock Bridge subdivision was there long before 37 Main. The fact is, our city leaders allowed a very loud commercial business to move into a location that is directly adjacent to one of our many existing residential subdivisions. If anything, our city leaders obsessed with commercial growth should have done their due diligence before 37 Main was allowed their business license. This underscores a big problem with the current misdirection of the city. We are exactly what the 37 Main owners sarcastically describe as a “bedroom community”. It’s going to be very difficult to shoe-horn aggressive commercial growth in our city. But that’s exactly what many of our city leaders are trying to do.

    EJ Moosa


    In this instance the homeowners were there first. But it does not matter.

    Using your example, if the business stayed there for ten years and the homes affected were sold to new owners, would the business then have the right to do as they felt? The answer would be no.

    What if you owned a private piece of vacant property for decades, and next door was a commercial entity that generated noise and other pollution that now affects your property in a negative way. Does the commercial property have the right to do this? Under what premise?

    I do not believe this is like being near an airport or a highway. These are effectively public thoroughfares for the public good, operated in most instances by government entities, which also operate under different parameters.

    For instance, the largest landowner in Fulton County does not have to abide by any of the sign or noise ordinances set by local jurisdictions. That would be the public school system, which is why we have electronic signs in front of every school, despite the wishes of Johns Creek to have control over signage within our community.

    Yes people have properties that back to commercial properties and yes they should do their due diligence. And, generally speaking, people are willing to pay less for properties that might back up to commercial properties. But because they paid less does not mean that the property comes with fewer rights and commercial properties can do what they want and as much as they want, without regard to any other entities.

    The bottom line is that one party cannot cause harm to another party. And in this instance there are parties that are claiming to be harmed by the actions of another party.

    If that is true, they have a legal right to seek relief. Just as if there were two commercial entities side by side, and one was causing harm to the other, the harmed party would have the right to seek relief.

    What if, for example, next to one business, there was a quiet dining restaurant. A new business opens up that alters the quiet settings inside the restaurant to the point the patrons could no longer enjoy the experience of quiet dining.

    Should the restaurant be forced to relocate because it should have known that could happen? Or would they be able to seek relief?

    J. Bailey

    I have a neighbor that 5 years ago decided to install an outdoor TV on his deck. My neighborhood, when I moved into it 28 years ago, had a no outdoor speaker rule. Without having a vote to change this rule or notifying the residents, the people that run the neighborhood decided to allow outdoor televisions. I suspect that someone within that ruling class wanted one and that is how this change came about. It is the most vile unnecessary noise that I have ever heard in my life. I can hear this noise inside my home on the opposite side of where the idiot box is located. I agree that leaf blowers and industrial lawn mowers are a nuisance and I have to listen to them 6 days a week on my street. Johns Creek needs to address all of these issues. We are all suffering.


    Your article is very 1 sided. Sounds like you listened to the council meetings only, but weren't following the story closely. The city council all approved the building and new full well what it was and even charged extra because of that. The 3 homes complaining were 250 feet away, and when asked to have professionals and police come n and in and witness the " windows ratlling" and "floors shaking ", everyone was denied. Hardly any audible readings at property and 65 DB readings at back door of establishment (normal conversation is 65-70). There were complaints called in on the 2 NIGHTS a week the venue had loud music, and even on some days they were CLOSED. The establishment was not given any guidelines to go by and that's all they ever asked for from authorities. These "vibrations " the neighbors heard could have been from cars, trucks, even AC units. The owners were issued 7 citations that the police who wrote then testified in court they never heard anything, but the judge made them stick anyway. Gave them 3 years probation, 6 months in jail for next citation issued, and fined them $9000! Two council members fought the mayor for LEVELS with numbers but on the final vote, flipped to side with mayor. No readings were instituted in the new law. Only an audible reading in which the officer is to determine if he hears anything or not. There's plenty more details but that sums it up. The whole thing was a sham and a mistake on the city's fault. Instead of taking partial blame, helping resolve the issue as party to it, or give the business a number to go by, they basically ran them out of town. It was unfair and unjust. Every city surrounding johns creek all have numeric reading with an electronic device used ALL THE TIME. The final result needs to be having this circus side show of a city council and joke of a mayor thrown out on their ear, in my opinion.

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