Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Council to consider noise ordinance

February 23, 2006

A proposal to go before the Lansing City Council could have an effect on the peace and quiet of the city as it continues to grow.

Council members, during a work session tonight, will discuss a proposed ordinance that regulates noise - the levels that are appropriate in residential, commercial and industrial areas in the community and the times such noises are appropriate. It's one of two issues, along with a memo of understanding between the city and state transportation officials on future work on Kansas Highway 7, on the agenda for the work session.

The noise ordinance is an outgrowth of a complaint that was lodged with the council in October about a go-kart track in the back yard of a resident in the 100 block of West Lois Street.

Andrew Jones, who lives at 112 W. Lois St., had lodged the complaint against his neighbor, Kenny McCullough, who lives across the street diagonally from him at 117 W. Lois St. Jones took issue with the noise generated by the weekend racing of go-karts, ATVs and dirt bikes on a small dirt racetrack on McCullough's property behind his house.

"Every weekend (they) have parties with ATVs motorcycles, go-karts," Jones said at the time. "We can't even sit on our deck on the weekends and enjoy it because there's dirt, dust and fumes. : Everybody I've called - the city, the Police Department, everybody - said they don't have any ordinances over it."

A complaint eventually was filed in Municipal Court, but City Prosecutor Catalina Thompson tossed the case because she determined McCullough broke no city ordinances.

Thompson is the author of the new ordinance.

"This is Catalina Thompson's baby," said Police Chief Steve Wayman, whose department would be in charge of enforcing the proposed ordinance if it is enacted.

The ordinance makes it unlawful to make or cause a "noise disturbance" within the city. The proposal defines "noise disturbance" in broad ways, including:

¢ An animal that "continuously, repeatedly, or persistently for 30 minutes or more, without provocation by the complainant, creates a sound which is plainly audible across any property line boundary.

¢ Work on motor vehicles is plainly audible across any property line boundary between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

¢ Construction or demolition tools or equipment plainly audible across any property line boundary between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

¢ A power tool, lawn tool, garden tool or snow blower used in a residential area plainly audible across any property line boundary between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The ordinance requires most of the noises to meet a threshold of at least 55 decibels overnight or 60 decibels during the day in residential areas to trigger an infraction.

A dishwasher can reach a level of 60 decibels, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The proposed ordinance, Wayman said, wouldn't necessarily mean the end of go-kart complaints in the city.

"If they put mufflers on them and they don't go over the decibel level," the ordinance won't apply, he said. "It all boils down to noise. If they're not making the noise, they're not in violation of it. It's a noise ordinance."

The work session begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 800 First Terrace.

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