Cary News

Golf courses want review of Cary noise rules

Local golf course managers are asking Cary leaders to clarify the town’s rules for operating loud machinery in the early hours of the day.

Most Cary residents are not allowed to run lawn mowers and loud machinery before 7 a.m., but town rules allow an exemption for golf courses.

Town rules allow golf courses to mow putting greens as early as 6 a.m., as long as the noise from the equipment doesn’t exceed 60 decibels.

But the rules don’t specify whether equipment noise is limited to less than 60 decibels at any point – or limited to 60 decibels as an average over several minutes, which is how noise is measured at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.

Course managers from MacGregor Downs, Prestonwood and Lochmere country clubs in Cary recently wrote a joint letter to Mayor Harold Weinbrecht saying the rules are too vague. They worry that a strict interpretation of the rules could ultimately shorten their business days.

Equipment noise hasn’t been an issue in the golf communities, so there’s no clear enforcement practice, Weinbrecht said.

“Some believe that is over a 60-second period and some believe that is a single reading,” he wrote in an email to Cary Town Council members.

The council is expected to give guidance to Cary town staff during its meeting Thursday. If town staff rewrite the rules to better clarify them, the council is likely to hold a public hearing at a later date to receive feedback on them.

Managers of the three courses want Cary leaders to rewrite the rules so that a noise violation would occur only if golf course equipment exceeds an average of 60 decibels over a one-minute period.

“We have concerns that if the existing ordinance remains unchanged and is interpreted differently by future town leaders, we may be adversely affected in our ability to offer early tee times for our members, which affects revenues, and could impact our viability to operate,” the letter to Weinbrecht stated.

The letter was signed by Russ Curtis, general manager of MacGregor Downs, Matt Massei, general manager of Prestonwood, and Steve Ostroff, general manager of Lochmere.

The three also want the town to expand its definition of “green.” The town and the clubs currently interpret the rule to mean putting greens. But some have interpreted the U.S. Golf Association’s definition of green to mean any area of play, Weinbrecht said.

Weinbrecht said he doesn’t have strong feelings about how the rules should be changed. He said he’s interested in hearing from residents and other council members.

“If you’re making an exception for a golf course to do maintenance, then let them do maintenance,” he said. “There needs to be clarification one way or another.”