Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Concord councilwoman wants city to curb 'urban noise'

CONCORD — This isn't about leaf blowers and barking dogs, Councilwoman Helen Allen said.

But she wants city leaders to talk in the near future about creating a noise ordinance to curb rumbling motorcycle noise, pounding bass-heavy car stereos and other "urban noise" throughout town.

"It shouldn't be so stringent that your dog can't bark," Allen said at a recent City Council meeting. "But I'd like to at least look at what we can do."

State law already gives municipal police departments the power to ticket drivers whose car stereos can be heard from 50 feet away, along with those who have modified exhaust systems on their cars and motorcycles.

There are nuisance laws and general rules about disturbing the peace. But there isn't a specific city ordinance that addresses noise.

Allen said she wants the staff to look further into the city's options. She said she's been getting increasing complaints about rumbling motorcycles or high-pitched motorized scooters buzzing through their neighborhoods.

Mayor Bill Shinn said he, too, is concerned about noise as blight, but wonders about the practicality of such an ordinance.

"The fact is, I can play my boom box loud, but as soon as the cops get here, the noise is gone," he said.

"There is some reality that we need to look at here. Hopefully, we can get people to respect their neighbors ... we just have to keep talking to people. But how do you enforce something Advertisementlike this? Do you run around with a decibel meter?"

Councilman Guy Bjerke said he is open to exploring a noise ordinance.

"But I want to make sure that the discussion encompasses the big picture of staff resources and what kind of priority we'd be willing to place on this."

He noted the Oct. 27 decision on RV parking, the end of a controversial, two-year battle over where residents can and cannot park their RVs. City leaders and RV proponents struck a well-received compromise, but Bjerke noted the new system — in which RV owners will need a city permit to park on their driveways — is going to take up a lot of city staff time.

Add to that the recently passed in-home business ordinance, which limits the types of businesses that can operate inside homes, and that's even more staff time, he said.

"Given the state of the economy and the resources we have, we need to be focused on our priorities, so I'd like to know how much staff time this would take and that kind of thing," Bjerke said.

"That said, I'm open to it."

There's no word yet on when the City Council will discuss a proposed noise ordinance.

"I was just thinking about this because we don't have one," Allen said.

  • Soaring home prices cramping RNC recruitment in Labrador West
  • Wet harvest adds to cattle farmers’ woes
  • Council leans toward grandfathering RVs and boats already in town
  • Concord candidates debate
  • Clayton allowing veggie stand — for now