The Common Council is considering a new noise ordinance that would establish sound limits, measured in decibels, for activities from construction work to barking dogs to music.
The new ordinance sets noise limits based on the type of activity, the duration of the sound, whether it's occurring in a residential or business district and the time of day; more stringent sound limits apply during the nighttime hours, defined as 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Activities covered under the ordinance include excessively barking dogs, burglar alarms, music from homes and vehicles, air conditioners, power tools, commercial work, construction, squealing tires and places of public entertainment. The ordinance provides exceptions for emergency vehicles and alarms activated during emergencies, among others, and allows the council to provide exemptions for special events.
Mayor Michelle Roman said she has received numerous noise complaints, but the current ordinance does not clearly define what constitutes an "unnecessary or unusual noise."
“Right now (City Building Inspector) Jason Dool says they have no way of policing this when they have complaints," Roman said.
“They (the person producing the noise) might say, I don’t think it’s loud," she said. "Now we have a way to know whether it is.”
The proposed ordinance would also allow members of the city Building Department to issue noise citations. Like the current ordinance, the proposed ordinance would punish offenders with fines up to $250 or up to 15 days in jail.
Interim Police Chief Steven Preisch said officers typically give a verbal warning before issuing a citation.
The council is expected to vote Sept. 18 to set a public hearing on the proposed ordinance for a future meeting.