Change In Noise Ordinance Would Broaden Restrictions

by | Apr 30, 2014


The Town Council held a public hearing Monday night on a proposal to change the noise ordinance, allowing police to take two kinds of decibel measurements, in particular, allowing police to better measure bass sounds common with amplified music.

There are two basic measurement scales today, explained Police Chief Steven Brown, A weighted and C weighted. He said C level is recommended for music while A level is recommended for industrial noise, such as HVAC systems.

As it stands now, police measure decibels on a A weighting device. Brown said adding C weighting to the ordinance would allow police to better measure pulsating bass sounds, the usual source of complaint residents who live nearby from restaurants on Water Street and, when it was open, near Rok Bar on Main Street. (At the same meeting, the Town Council heard a proposal for a new restaurant at that site, which included an application for live music.)

“These additions do not change the existing ordinance,” Brown emphasized. Violations would occur if either A and/or C weightings were in excess of the legal limit. For A, the legal limit would remain 65 decibels; for the new C measurement, it would be 75 decibels. “It gives us another tool.”

Gary Bucco, who lives nearby Our Lady of Mercy Church, said he would not want the existing ordinance to be softened after the work done by the town to get OLM, which plays recorded bell music that has been a source of complaint in the past, to comply with noise restrictions.

“This only adds another measurement, it doesn’t change anything pertaining to your situation,” said Council President Michael Isaacs.

“If A’s a violation, than it’s a violation,” said Brown.

Peirce Street resident Ron Byleckie, who was subject to loud band noises after Rok Bar opened, suggested that maybe the 65 decibel limit was too high.

Brown said 65 was “generally accepted” around the country but that he had seen the limit as low as 40 decibels.

“To be subjected to 65 decibels for 4 hours on end, that’s the problem,” said Byleckie. 

Third reading on the ordinance change is slated for May 12.

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April 30, 2014 4:04 pm

Elizabeth, what is the history of the church bell issue? If someone moves by a church that has been there for decades and then complains about the bells, I have a hard time with that. Did the bells suddenly get louder over the past few years? Do they chime at late night or early morning hours? Are many people in the neighborhood upset about the volume? Can you provide some context for the complaint? Thank you.

Elizabeth Fritzsche McNamara
May 1, 2014 2:12 am
Reply to  Cheryl

There have been complaints, but I don’t know all the history. You raise good questions and I’m going to try to find answers. Thanks!


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