Payson Poised To Lower Fines For Excessive Noise

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If you really want to make a big racket and irritate all your neighbors — just hold off a little longer.

On Thursday, the Payson Town Council will consider a rewrite of its noise ordinance that will crop the maximum fine from $1,000 to $250.

On the other hand — if you really want to live next door to someone who hates you, best get your complaint in quickly — since the law itself probably won’t change much.

The council has been debating the overhaul of the noise ordinance off and on for the past couple of meetings, but Thursday should settle most of the outstanding issues.

The town staff recommendation to the council would avoid setting specific decibel limits when it comes to irritating noise — mostly because of concerns about enforcement.

Town Attorney Tim Wright has previously advised against writing decibel measurements into the law, as Sedona has done. He said such a provision would rely on the town having an employee who could run out with a noise gun whenever the town got a complaint. But if the offending noise doesn’t sound off when the town employee with the measuring microphone happens to be standing there, the case could be harder to win in court, he noted.

The council will still have to resolve a few other outstanding questions — like whether a ban on having a sound truck moving through a neighborhood hawking politicians or products could be used against the kid-luring music of an ice cream truck.

Currently, ice cream trucks do violate the town’s ban on amplified ads or music on a moving truck in a residential neighborhood — but the town has never actually gone after those melodious ice cream vendors.

The ordinance continued to ban an “unreasonable” noise and to affirm the right of the town’s residents to “an environment free from excessive sound and vibration that may jeopardize their health and welfare or degrade the quality of life.”

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