Our Opinion: Let’s hear it for a noise ordinance with specifics

News Tribune editorial

How loud is too loud?

Jefferson City officials are preparing an amended noise ordinance to quantify maximum permitted sound levels.

By providing specific, measurable standards, the new law is intended to be easier to enforce.

In an ideal world, common courtesy would prevail.

In reality, excessive noise can range from inconvenient to infuriating, and disrupt tranquility, concentration and sleep.

City Counselor Drew Hilpert said the existing noise ordinance is “so far out of date to be almost inapplicable.” And Public Works Director Roger Schwartze added: “The current ordinance is difficult to enforce because there’s nothing in there that tells you how loud is too loud.”

The new ordinance would establish standards both for daytime and nighttime in three separate zoning categories — commercial, industrial and residential.

The ordinance also establishes where the sound will be measured, the device to be used and the scale, defined as “units of the frequency-weighted sound level, or dB(A), in accordance with the American National Standards Institute specifications.”

For example, the proposed ordinance establishes the permissible daytime dB(A) in a residential area at 60.

In comparison, the dB(A) levels for other common noises include: vacuum cleaner, 60-85; blender, 80-90; leaf blower, 110; rock concert, 110-120; rocket launch, 180.

The permissible levels established in a new ordinance are matters for the City Council to decide after hearing from their constituents.

Most important is the establishment of reasonable and enforceable standards.

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