Midtown Raleigh News

Church and neighbors hope to end 7-year conflict

Leaders of The Glorious Church in central Raleigh and its neighbors hope to resolve a seven-year conflict at a June 26 meeting.

After being warned numerous times because of neighbor’s complaints about noise, the church was cited on May 27, said police Capt. Andrew Lull. To induce a citation, sound must either exceed a certain decibel or be reported as a nuisance by two residents or an officer and one resident. The church was cited for the latter.

The church appealed the civil citation to the Raleigh City Council. Council members asked that the law and public safety subcommittee serve as a mediator between the church and its neighbors to come up with an agreement.

“We hope the city council will be able to mediate something between the two,” Lull said.

The beginning of the conflict

Bishop William Spain of The Glorious Church has seen the church bring drug dealers, drug users and prostitutes off the street and into the church community.

“This church has done a lot of good for the community,” Spain said.

He said the trouble began when John Seitz moved into the neighborhood 11 years ago. Previously, the church didn’t receive noise complaints and neighbors were “happy” with the church’s presence, Spain said.

Seitz said he tried to keep the sounds of the church out. He replaced windows and put up a privacy fence but still was being woken up by morning and late-night services, he said.

In response to Seitz’s complaints, Spain said, the church moved its instruments farther from Seitz’s house and added barriers around them.

Another neighbor of the church, Mark Turner, said he also could hear noise from the church in his house with his windows closed.

“It got to the point to where it was keeping my kids awake at night, on school nights,” said Turner, chairman of Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council and the chairman of Raleigh’s Parks Board.

Police get involved

Seitz said he complained to police about the noise over the years but was not satisfied with their responses.

Lull, who became captain in 2010, learned of the conflict in October 2011 through See Click Fix, a way for residents to report issues that they feel need to be addressed. He sent a community officer to conduct a survey about residents’ concerns.

After many mentioned the noise as an issue, the officer arranged a meeting in January to find a resolution.

“I understand the desire to worship the way you feel called to worship, however we also have the ordinance, and it is an obligation for the police department to enforce the ordinance,” Lull said.

During the meeting, the noise ordinance was explained to the church and to its neighbors, and church leaders promised to replace windows within 90 days in an attempt to alleviate noise. Spain also gave neighbors his cell phone number in case they ever wanted to talk to him.

Neighbors discussed ways to soundproof the church and offered to raise money to help the church do so, Turner said.

‘Ruined’ communication

But during the Jan. 13 meeting, Spain said, he forgot to tell neighbors about guests who were coming to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. On Jan. 14, the police department received calls about the noise from the event.

Police came into the service said that they were “tired of you people,” and ordered the service to close, Spain said. “That just ruined our communication.”

After that incident, Spain said, he canceled all weeknight services that had music. Currently, the services with music are the Sunday services at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and sometimes 6 p.m. Spain’s musicians have also checked the decibel levels of the music and said they’re in compliance, he said

But Seitz said the sound is still too loud, and he and other neighbors tried to arrange another meeting with church leaders. A meeting was scheduled but canceled the night before because of a death in the church, Seitz said.

Another meeting has not been scheduled.

Because of changes in services, members have gone to other churches and attendance has gone down, Spain said. A decrease in money coming into the church has delayed soundproofing measures, he said.

“We’re not able to do what we said we wanted to do, as rapidly as we want to because our revenue is short.”