Town Looks At Redoing Existing Noise Ordinance

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The town's current rules about noise are imperfect.

Town Attorney Sam Streichman told the town council there was a problem with the current noise ordinance at its June 27 meeting.

"In order to have a valid noise ordinance, it cannot be content based. The ordinance is content based. It focuses on commercial noise only and when it does that it is targeting the content or source of the noise," Streichman said. "As some courts have put it, noise is noise. And if noise is evil, it is equally evil coming from a non-commercial source. So, when you just target the commercial source, you have created an invalid ordinance."

He said the legal department's research has shown what can make a noise ordinance valid: regulation of the sound level measurement or decibels; regulation of distance from which a noise can be heard; and regulation of the time during which noise can be heard.

"We don't recommend building decibel levels into the ordinance. It is very tricky, it's very expensive to enforce and it isn't necessary," Streichman said.

He and his staff advised adopting time and distance regulations, such as noise cannot be heard within 300 feet of its source between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. He added there are exemptions for construction-related noise and those areas where outdoor cafes are promoted in redevelopment areas.

Mayor Ken Murphy said he was concerned about getting the ordinance in place before the end of summer and asked that an emergency clause be added.

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said having a time restriction will make it easier to enforce the noise ordinance. The current law has no time element to it. "It is my preference as police chief that we do have some type of definitions in there in regard to times and distances and something in there that makes it so we can tell people this is the policy of the town, so we don't leave so much at the discretion of the police officer," Gartner said.

He said where there is an ongoing problem, he and his staff want to get the business owner and manager together with their neighbors, his staff and the Main Street people to try to come to some kind of arrangement that works for everyone.

Murphy said he would like to see the time limits be from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays.

The noise ordinance suggested at the June 27 meeting was a first reading and discussion. No action was taken. Action will take place after a second presentation and public hearing.

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