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Ozark Neighbors Say a Noise is Making Them Physically Ill

An Ozark woman circulated a petition in her neighborhood to convince the city to enforce its noise ordinance and force the county to turn off an air conditioning unit they say it emitted harmful low frequencies.

March 27, 2012|Joanna Small and Joel Girdner | Reporter and Photographer

OZARK, Mo. — People in one Ozark neighborhood say a noise is not only driving them crazy, it's making them physically ill.

  They blame an air conditioning unit on top of the Christian County Justice Center.  This may sound confusing, but one woman tells us there's nothing confusing about this sound.

  She says it started when a new unit was installed in September and now a low hum haunts everything within a one mile radius of the Ozark square.

  "Oh it's wonderfully quiet," in Elise Crain's neighborhood, save for the sounds of every day life.

  "The dogs bark as you walk by, the birds chirp as you go along," says Crain.

  Business owners and passerbys on the town square hear them too.  But the same day, at the same time, in the same neighborhood Angela Buck hears nothing but an incessant pounding inside her skull.

  "It pierces into your head, you cannot sleep at night."

  She says months of research shows it's coming from the county building.  It's taken over her life.

  "Even only if a few notice it all are affected.  We have done an in-depth study," explains Buck.

  I have to be honest-- I didn't notice it.  Buck says it's most similar to music with too much base being blasted from a car stereo.  She says she can feel her heart vibrating in her chest.

  "If you try to muffle it with toilet paper and ear plugs it only makes it worse."

  Buck has gone door to door collecting nearly 200 signatures and countless stories of struggle from others who feel it too.  Now she's begging for the city of Ozark's help.

  "We have nuisance ordinances and in them is smoke, odor and noise is one of them, but when you're dealing with a loud party or a car that's one thing," Ozark City Administrator Steve Childers tells us. "When you're talking about low frequency noise you can't hear then that's something different," he continues.  "So we would first have to establish a nuisance existed to enforce that and I think that's the challenging part."

  Buck offers this as proof: on the same day, at the same time, in the same neighborhood it's as if two neighbors are on two different frequencies.

  "It's wonderfully quiet," Crain reiterates.

  "If you can't hear that buzz you must be deaf," Buck insists.

  She sent her petition to the city of Ozark.  She and her husband are on the agenda to speak before council at the regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.  Her plea is that the city will enforce the noise ordinance and require the county to turn off that air conditioning unit.

  Buck says she first took her complaints to the county but the commission would not address it.  We tried to call the county too, but our calls weren't returned.

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