Noise ordinance prepared by city
City council members want to know if a sound meter can judge sound as well as a human ear before approving a city noise ordinance.
The council met for a work session Monday night at City Hall to discuss the noise ordinance and other issues.
City officials are recommending a sound meter be used to determine what is too loud. Jo Etta Rogers said what she considers too loud, should be enough for police action.
Rogers, 105 Chapel, asked city officials to adopt a noise ordinance after her home was invaded by the music from what used to be the Wildcat and most recently was Goodtimes both bars. The building is now vacant. Rogers' biggest complaint was bass from the music, which shook her home for hours.
"It was impossible to get away from," Rogers said. "When it was really loud, you didn't hear it, you felt it."
Rogers, who lives a short distance from U.S. Highway 56, said traffic noise doesn't bother her, because it comes and goes. The music from the bar was "a four-hour assault on her senses," and she said her complaint should be enough for police action.
"I don't see why we need an elaborate meter," Rogers said. "If you are getting 40 calls because of the noise, it seems like that's all you need. Lawrence's ordinance is simple compared to this, and it covers everything."
Police chief Steve Butell said Lawrence police officers determine what is too loud with their own judgment. He said setting a noise limit, measurable by decibels, would hold up better in court.
"Who is the reasonable person who determines what is too loud?" asked City Administrator Larry Paine. "Steve is the person who has to go to court. When you walk into the court and say 'this is the community standard,' the court will uphold it."
Although the noise ordinance sets a decibel limit for noise 60 decibels, and less after 11 p.m. Paine said officers can also use their discretion.
"If you are hearing noise from that far away, then the noise is too loud," Paine said.
A special permit can be gained for events that will likely exceed the noise limit with approval from all neighbors within 400 feet of the event. Events such as football games are exempt from the ordinance.
Council members said they would still like to see a demonstration of a sound meter before approving the ordinance and purchasing a meter for the city.
"I'd sure like to see a demonstration of what the device will do how much it will measure and from how far," said council president Marilyn Pearse.
The council does not plan to take action on the noise ordinance during a regular meeting until a sound meter demonstration has been held.