Gonzales officials anticipate passage of proposed ordinance

Gina Zanutto

In two weeks, the Gonzales City Council will likely approve a refurbished noise ordinance aimed at combating a recent rise in neighborhood disturbances, including a drive-by shooting at the home of former NBA basketball star John “Hot Rod” Williams.

“There were incidents within the city limits where parties began getting out of hand,” said Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson. “Such parties led to excessive drinking, fighting and even gunfire in our neighborhoods. Prior to this ordinance, there were no laws on the books to hold an individual responsible for creating an unsafe environment for their neighbors and even themselves.”

The ordinance, effective immediately if passed, would be contained in Section 8-216 and 8-217 within Chapter 8, Article VII of the city’s criminal code.

“I made contact with the city attorney, Ryland Percy, who researched other cities' ordinances,” Jackson said. “Percy was able to find an ordinance that fit well with the City of Gonzales. Mayor Arceneaux, Sheriff Wiley and myself discussed the ordinance and found it fit appropriately with the city's current laws.”

216 prohibits “loud and unruly gatherings in residential areas,” namely large crowds in yards, sidewalks or streets and offenses such as: public drunkeness, excessive noise, discharge of firearms and serving alcohol to minors.

“The new city ordinance will foster positive changes within our community. The citizens of Gonzales would like to have family gatherings, cookouts and celebrations at their homes, but at the same time feel safe,” Jackson said. “This ordinance will allow our citizens to do just that. In this technology-driven society, communication is rapid, and before you now it there are strangers intruding on a gathering that they originally weren't invited to. This is a problem that we would like to eliminate and still allow family and friends to gather peacefully and safely.”

217 details individual violations and their respective fines, including a $500 fine an 60 days imprisonment for an initial offense and an increased fine and prison sentence for subsequent convictions.

“If there is a disturbance and my officers have enough evidence to make an arrest, then the violator(s) will be placed under arrest,” Jackson said. “If there’s a large party and the conditions of the party are as described within the ordinance, then the owner or host may be considered a violator.”