Crafting a municipal noise ordinance is a balancing act that includes standards and variables.
The standards are measurable decibel levels necessary for enforcement.
The variables are residents' differing tolerances for volume and content (one person's music is another person's cacophony).
The Jefferson City Council on Monday approved a noise ordinance that strikes a delicate balance.
Council members, who adopted the measure on a 9-1 vote, wisely took their time with the proposal and listened to constituents, and critics.
The result is an ordinance that specifies decibel levels, both commercial and residential, during both daytime and nighttime hours, measured from a fixed distance.
In short, the ordinance advances specifics and accounts for variables - in both time and location.
Maximum allowed noise levels are:
• In commercial areas, 80 decibels in daytime and 75 decibels during nighttime.
• In residential areas, 60 decibels in daytime and 55 decibels during nighttime.
Daytime begins at 7 a.m. and extends to 9 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Sound levels are measured 50 feet from the source.
No noise ordinance will satisfy every resident.
Although perfection on this matter is elusive, the council has adopted a reasonable, and enforceable, city ordinance.