Long County residents for months have complained about the noise coming from a Hugh Gordon Lane animal-rescue ranch, and leaders hope a Friday hearing will help a solution come to light.
“It’s terrible. We hear the dogs all the time, especially in the morning and in the evening,” resident Tori Gordon said at a recent Long County Board of Commissioners meeting. “I understand what they’re trying to do, but as property owners and taxpayers, we have a right to be able to play outside with our kids and not have to listen to all of that noise.”
Though many residents like Gordon already have sounded off about the Making of Miracle Stories animal-rescue center, a hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday in the Long County High School cafeteria.
“We have received several complaints about the dogs barking, from people who live out there near the center,” Long County Commission Chairman Bobby Walker said. The center is in his district.
The matter also came up in November and at the December county-commission meeting, where Walker reported that he contacted the state about residents’ complaints about dogs barking.
Because the center’s operational license was approved through the state, only the state has the power to revoke the license, Walker said. State officials reportedly told him that before any more licenses would be approved, the commission would be contacted first.
Bill Sanderson, a New Jersey resident who is on the board of trustees for the animal-rescue center, said he was not aware of anyone having a problem with the noise until last month.
Shortly before Feb. 15, Long County Code Enforcement Officer Steve Adkins told the center there had been complaints about the noise, Sanderson said. He met Walker and Adkins on Feb. 15 at the ranch, and Walker told him the county would schedule a hearing so a solution could be reached.
“There also were two of the neighbors there, one said that he had a problem with the noise, and the other — well, he just said that he didn’t want us to be there,” Sanderson said.
The group purchased the mobile home and accompanying land in March 2012, he added. The MoMS rescue collects dogs from all over the area, including Liberty County, and sends about 120 dogs every month to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to be adopted.
“We’re a nonprofit organization, and we don’t charge anyone anything,” Sanderson said. “There is a big demand up North, and we just do this to keep these dogs from being killed.”
Sheryl Barton takes care of the animals and lives at the center, which she said is licensed to house up to 80 dogs.
Barton said she did not feel the noise was too bad and said that the only time it might be noticeable is in the morning when she or another volunteer feeds the animals.
But Gordon voiced a different opinion.
“It’s admirable what they are doing, but the noise is no different than if I was playing music in my yard and I was blaring it too loud,” Gordon said. “They wouldn’t want to hear that, just like my other neighbors wouldn’t.”
Gordon said she and her husband voiced concerns about noise coming from the rescue before it ever opened, and Walker told them the state already had approved the license. As a result, there was nothing Long County could do to prevent the center from opening.
“This is a regrettable situation, and we’re trying to find a way to deal with it,” Walker said. “We have a hearing scheduled for the 15th, and we encourage anyone who has an opinion on this to come out and voice it.”
Sanderson said his organization also will make every effort to find a solution.
“We want to be good neighbors,” he said. “If we can take some steps to do some sound-proofing, we will be willing to look into it that — but we’re not going to do a lot more work if we’re just going to be shut down either.”