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Lead’s new noise ordinance approved

October 7, 2018

LEAD — The city of Lead has adopted a new noise ordinance with its second reading at Monday’s commission meeting.

The new ordinance distinguishes three separate zones in the city of Lead, residential, commercial or business, and industrial. Each zone has been assigned a maximum permissible sound level, and must comply with certain time restrictions. For residential zones, the maximum permissible sound level is 60 d BA, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 55 d BA from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Commercial or business zones have been set at 70 d BA at all times, and industrial zones have been set at 75 d BA at all times. If a complaint is made to city hall or the police department, an officer will take a decibel reading at the boundary of the property generating the sound. If the reading shows the property is not in compliance with the ordinance, a citation of a Class 2 misdemeanor may be issued. In the event of a commercial or business, or industrial zone being located next to a residential zone, the more restrictive permissible sound level will be applied to the boundary line. For example, if a business is next door to a residence, that business will have to comply with the residential decibel levels and time restrictions. For residences that are located in commercial or business zones, such as apartments above a business, the residential decibel levels and time restrictions will not apply.

Some exemptions to the new ordinance include noise generated by emergency vehicles and warning devices.

One reoccurring concern citizens have brought to the attention of the commission throughout the construction of the ordinance has been addressing the issue of loud and disruptive vehicles driving through town. Commissioner Don Mack pointed to section 93.22, which lays out the kinds of noise that are prohibited under the new ordinance; specifically item 9, which states:

“Defect in vehicle. Operating or permitting to be operated or used any motor vehicle which, by virtue of disrepair or manner of operation, violates Section 93.28 or causes a noise disturbance.”

“So when a resident or a citizen observes that,” Mack added. “Get a description of the vehicle, try to get a license number, provide it to the chief, and the chief can take care of it.”

City Administrator Mike Stahl said now that the ordinance has gone through it’s second reading; the city will soon begin the process of acquiring the necessary equipment to enforce the decibel level and time restrictions properly and consistently.

“Once the ordinance heads to being law,” Stahl said. “And we don’t have to worry about referendums or anything like that, we will purchase scientifically graded noise meters.”

The city included a section allowing residents and business owners to apply for permits if they want to hold any special events that might conflict with the new ordinance, which at least one resident disagreed with.

“I do not believe that you should allow anyone to have a permit to break the law,” Mardi Ann Apa said. “You should not be giving a permit to allow people to make noise outside of the ordinance.”

“I think we’ve learned a lot this year alone in regards to permits and granting of permits,” Commissioner David Vardamin responded. “And I know it’ll be part of our next conversation on how to properly time those and what duration they run to so that we’re not excessively late at night and causing disturbances.”

Mack added that building the option in for residents and businesses to apply for a permit was meant to allow a conversation to be had about special events. He compared the permits to variances in other ordinances, which are regularly applied for and most often approved, but not always.

“We also allow variances to our ordinances such as an open container,” Mack said. “We say that you can’t have that, but when a business or an establishment requests that and justifies it, and provides it in writing, then the commission has an opportunity to look at it and see whether or not that is a viable thing to do and it is voted on. We’re trying to do that with this too.”

Mack ended by reminding everyone that though the new ordinance is moving forward on it’s way to becoming a law, it can be revisited, and changes can be made in the future.

“We all hope it’s successful but we can revisit it, that’s the good thing’” Mack said. “If it just isn’t acceptable to the citizens and its not working the way it should, we’ll revisit it.”

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