Ordinance 96-1: Noise Ordinance

WHEREAS, the Town of Townsend determines that noise disturbances are detrimental to the physical, mental, and social well-being of its citizens; and

WHEREAS, the Townsend Town Council declares it to be a necessity to provide for the greater good and more effective regulations of noise disturbances by the adoption of this ordinance.

THE TOWN OF TOWNSEND HEREBY ORDAINS:

A) Noise Disturbances Pro-hibitied:

1. General Prohibition: It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation, or business entity to make, continued, a noise disturbance within Townsend.

2. Specific Prohibition: It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation, or business entity to make, continue, or cause to be made or continued, a noise disturbance within Townsend in any of the following manners:

a.) Motor Vehicles, Horns, and Motor Vehicle Signaling Devices:

It shall be unlawful for any person within any residential district to repair, rebuild, test, race, or gun any motor vehicle between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. of the following day in such a manner that would create a noise disturbance.

All motor vehicles operating within the boundaries of Townsend must comply with the applicable State of Delaware regulations pursuant to Title VII or the Delaware Code.

All aircraft and railroads operating within Townsend shall comply with all applicable Federal and State noise regulations.

The use of motor vehicle horns and warning and signaling devices shall be limited to the emergency situations to which they are designed.

b.) Radios, Television Sets, Phonographs, and Similar Devices

Operating or permitting the use of operation of any radio receiving set, musical instruments (s), television, phonographs, drum, speaker or loud speaker, sound amplifier, automobile radio, automobile stereo or high fidelity equipment or other device for the production, reproduction, or amplification of sound in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance.

Using or operating any mechanical device or loudspeaker in a fixed or movable position exterior to any building, or mounted upon any aircraft, motor vehicle or amphibious craft, such that the sound thereform causes a noise disturbance or is plainly audible at or beyond the property boundary of the source, or on a public way.

(1.) In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance within a receiving property.

(2.) In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance within any receiving property when operated in or on a motor vehicle on a public right-of-way or public space;

(3.) In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance to any person other than the operator of the device when operated by any passenger on a common carrier or when operated by any pedestrian on a public street or sidewalk or on any public space; or

(4.) In such an manner, at any time during any 24-hour day, and so as to be plainly audible across real estate property boundaries or through partitions common to two parties within a building; or plainly audible fifty (50) feet from such device when operated within a motor vehicle on a public or private right-of-way or on a public or private space.

REMOVAL AND IMPOUNDMENT, PROCEDURES

In the enforcement of the above section [b], police officers may remove and impound any such set, instrument, phonograph, equipment or device being used or operated in violation of such subsection and, in such instances, shall issue to the owner or operator of the same a form of receipt identifying the name and residence address of such owner or operator and clearly describing the set, instrument, phonograph, equipment, or device impounded. Upon final adjudication of charges of violation of such section, the police department shall forthwith return such device the owner form of receipt to the police department.

PENALTIES:

Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50.00 for a first offense and not less than $300.00 for the second and subsequent offenses. Upon presentation of the aforesaid receipt to the police department, the person’s radio receiving set, musical instrument, phonograph, or other equipment or device for producing, reproducing, or amplifying sound shall be returned forthwith to such person.

c. Animals:

Owning, possessing, harboring, or controlling any animal or bird which causes a noise disturbance by barking, baying, crying, squawking, or by making any other noise continuously or incessantly for a period of ten minutes or makes such noises intermittently for one-half hour or more, provided, however, that at the time the animal or bird is making such noise no person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon private property in or upon which the animal or bird is situated or that no person other than the owner, controller, or possessor of the animal was teasing or provoking the animal or bird at the time it made such noise.

d. Loading Operations:

Loading, unloading, opening or otherwise handling boxes, crates, containers, garbage cans, or other similar objects between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following day, is such a manner as to create a noise disturbance within a residential district, except during an emergency.

e. Construction noise:

Operating or causing to be operated any equipment used in commercial construction, repair, alteration, or demolition work on buildings, structures, streets, alleys, or appurtenances thereto, in the following manner

1.) With sound control devices which have been tampered with;

2.) In violation of any regulations of the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency; or

3.) In business and industrial districts between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on weekdays and between 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays evening and 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings; or between 10:00 p.m. the day before the 9:00 a.m. the day of a legal, national, or state holiday which creates a noise disturbance. In residential districts, each of such periods of time shall commence at 8:00 p.m. rather than 10:00 p.m.

f. Explosives, Firearms, and Similar devices

The use or firing of explosives, firearms, or similar devices which create impulsive sound so as to cause a noise disturbance within a residential district or on a public right-of-way.

g. Powered Model Vehicles:

Operating or permitting the operation of a powered model vehicle between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following morning. Maximum sound pressure levels during the permitted period of operation shall conform to those set for the in section below and shall be measured at the property line of the source or at a distance of 100 feet if it is operated in a public place

h. Refuse Compacting Vehicles:

The operation of or permitting the operation of any motor vehicle which can compact refuse and which causes a noise disturbance between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day in residential districts, except such vehicles engaged in municipal services.

i. Yelling, Shouting, Whistling or Generally making a racket on Public Streets

Yelling, shouting, etc. on public streets between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the flowing day so to be plainly audible at the nearest property line or to a by-stander or to create a noise disturbance so as to annoy and disturb the quiet comfort or repose of persons to cause a noise disturbance in any business or residential district, or of any person in the vicinity.

j. Power equipment

Operating or permitting to be operated, any power saw, sander, drill, grinder, garden equipment, or tools of a similar nature, outdoors in residential districts between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day, in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.

k. Stationary Emergency Signaling Devices

Testing of only the electrical, mechanical functioning of a stationary emergency signaling device shall occur at the same time each day that a test is performed, but no before 8:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m. Any such testing shall use only the minimum cycle test time. In no case shall such test time exceed ten second. Testing of the complete emergency signaling system, including the electro-mechanical functioning of the signaling device and the personnel response to the signal, shall not occur more than once a month. The ten-second time limit on the electro-mechanical functioning shall not apply to such system testing.

Stationary signaling devices shall be used only for testing in compliance with applicable provisions of this ordinance and for emergency purposes where personnel and equipment are mobilized.

For the purposes of the enforcement of this section, noise levels shall be measured with a sound meter that meets or exceeds the requirements of American National Standard Institute specification for sound meters (ANSI ยง1.4-1971), approved April 27,1971, and issued by the American National Standards Institute, for types I, II or S sound level meters, A sound level meter in decibel units and such instruments shall produce a calibration sound pressure level.

l. Tampering:

No person shall operate any equipment unless all noise and/or vibration control devices installed thereon are in full operation.

No person shall tamper with, circumvent, or remove any should level monitoring instrument, meter, or device positioned by and for the police.

No person shall remove or deface a noise label on any product.

3. Enforcement and Penalties:

a. Any person who vilates any portion of this ordinance shall receive a verbal notice to cease or abate the noise immediately.

b. Any person who fails to comply with the order to cease or abate the noise, or who does comply but then again violates the order within 96 hours shall be charged with a violation of this ordinance and shall be subject to a fine of not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00 Each day such a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

c. This ordinance shall be enforced by the police department hired by the Town of Townsend

B. Exceptions and Special Waivers

1. The following uses of a activity shall be exempt from level regulations:

a. Noise of safety signals and warning devices.

b. Noises resulting from any authorized vehicle, when responding to an emergency.

c. Noises resulting from the provision of municipal services.

d. Any noise resulting from activities of a temporary duration permitted by law and/or for which a waiver has been rated by the Townsend Town Council

e. The un-amplified human voice and un-amplified crowd noises resulting from activities such as those planned by day care centers, schools, governmental and community groups (except those prohibited above.)

f. Parades and public gatherings for which a special waiver or permit has been issued.

g. Bells, chimes, carillons, while being used for religious purposes or in conjunction with religious services, or for national celebrations or public holidays, that are presently installed and in use for any purpose.

h. Town sponsored events in parks or public spaces and activities or federal, state and local governmental agencies.

i. Noncommercial events, parades, public speaking, or public assembly activities, including political rallies and promotions, conducted on any public space or right-of-way, provided that such activities are in compliance with all other applicable provisions of the state, county and town codes and are conducted only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

j. Lawn maintenance equipment, except between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. as long as it is functioning within manufactures’ specifications and with all mufflers and noise-reducing equipment in use and is in proper operating condition.

2. Special Waivers

a. For good cause the Townsend Town Council may issue a special waiver of the strict requirements of this ordinance as applied to the following as long as the request shall be filed in writing. The application shall set for the state(s) and hours which such use or activity is to extend, the nature and use or activity and any noise-creating equipment to be employed and the name, address, and telephone number of the person to be responsible thereof.

b. In determining whether or not to grant or deny the application, the Town Council shall balance the benefit to be derived to the applicant and to the public from granting it and the hardship to the applicant and the public from denial against the adverse impact, if any, on the health, safety, and welfare of persons, and property affected any other adverse impacts of granting the waiver.

c. Special waivers shall be granted by notice to the applicant and may include all necessary conditions, including time limits within which the activity may be permitted. The special waiver shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicant. Noncompliance with any condition or the special waiver shall be sufficient cause for termination of it and shall subject the person holding it to those otherwise applicable provisions of this ordinance regulating the source of sound or the activity for which the special waiver was granted.

d. The Townsend Town Council may issue guidelines defining the procedures to be followed in applying for special waivers and the criteria to be considered in deciding whether to grant a special waiver.

1. An event, activity, or assembly which is of a nonprofit or charitable nature and is judged to be of exceptional value, benefit or interest to the public.

2. An event, activity, or assembly which has a significant history of public acceptance.

3. A commercial event, activity or assembly which is judged to be of exceptional value, benefit, or interest to the public.

4. Commercial or non-commercial construction activities or the use of power equipment or construction tools during the periods of times prohibited above, provided that the council may specify hours of the day and the number of days during which the special waiver will apply.

5. The applicant demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the special waiver is sought into compliance with this ordinance would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, or community.

C. Allowable noise levels and prohibited measurable noise disturbances

1. Unless a person has been granted a special waiver, in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance, it shall be unlawful for any person to create a noise disturbance. Any one or a combination of the following shall constitute a measurable noise disturbance:

a. A noise which exceeds the ambient noise level by ten dBA, at the point of complaint origination within the receiving property, except as otherwise regulated in this ordinance.

b. Any stationary source of sound which emits a pure tone, cyclically varying sound or repetitive impulsive sound shall be considered a noise disturbance if the sound exceeds the ambient noise level by five dBA.

c. Any Source of Sound which emits an impulse, the duration of less than one second with an abrupt onset and rapid decay, including metal to metal impact or exploding impacts, shall not exceed the peak level set forth below and measure at the point of complaint origination within the receiving property.

i. Residential districts between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. 80dBA

ii. All other districts and at all other times, 100 dBA.

d. Any source of sound which emits infrasound (below 16 kertz) or ultrasound (above 20 KHz) frequencies shall not exceed 100 dBA when measured at the point of complaint origination within the receiving property.

e. No persons shall operate or cause to be operated any stationary source of sound in such a manner as to create a 24-hour equivalent a-weighted sound level which exceeds the legal limits set forth for the receiving land use category below and measured at the point of complaint origination within the property boundary of the receiving land use:

i. Residential districts: 65 dBA between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., 55 dBA between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

ii. Business districts: 75 dBA between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., 65 dBA between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

iii. Industrial districts: 85 dBA between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., 65 dBA between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

f. The operation of or permitting the operation of powered model vehicles during the permitted period of operation, 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., when the maximum sound pressure levels exceed the levels set forth above as measured at the property line of the source or at a distance of 100 feet from the source if it is operated in a public space

g. The operation of or permitting the operation of any motor vehicle which can compact refuse and which creates, during the compacting cycle, a sound pressure level in excess of 94 dBA when measured a distance of 50 feet from any point of the vehicle, except such vehicles engaged in municipal services.

h. Unless otherwise expressly provided, in residential districts each of the prohibitions in this section shall be applicable during the periods of time from the hour of the prior evening as provided until 9:00 a.m. of the following day whenever that day is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal national or State holiday.

i. For the purpose of the enforcement of this ordinance, noise levels shall be measured with a sound meter that meets or exceeds the requirements of the American National Standard Institute specification for sound level meters (ANSI S1.4-1971), approved April 27, 1971, and issued by the American National Standards Institute, for type I, II or S Sound level meters. A sound level calibration instrument o the coupler type shall be used to calibrate the sound level meter in decibel units and such instrument shall produce a calibration sound pressure level having a tolerance no greater than + – .5 dB with a reference sound pressure level of 20 micronewtons per square meter.

D. Severability

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Town of Townsend that if the sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, and phrases of this Ordinance shall be declared unconstitutional or invalid by the valid judgment or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction, any unconstitutionality or invalidity shall not affect any of the remaining sections, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, and phrases of the Ordinance.

E. The Ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its adoption and approval.

First Reading: June 04, 1996; Second Reading: July 02, 1996; Amendment Approved: August 06, 1996; Signed by Town Council President: May Yealey

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