NORTH LIBERTY– Keep it down, North Liberty
The North Liberty City Council passed the second reading of amendments to its noise ordinance last Tuesday, May 22. While there are not a lot of big changes to the city’s laws about keeping the peace, there are a few minor details that warranted some discussion from the council
When City Administrator Ryan Heiar heard a complaint from one city councilor about the noise of construction work going late into the night, Heair said a review of the rules led to a revision as well.
“The council member was concerned specifically about large dirt moving vehicles operating late into the evening,” Heair said. “Once we took a look at the ordinance, it was clear we could modify a few things, such as definitions and a number of other minor changes, to clarify it but that didn’t really affect the policy.”
The most significant change to the ordinance was that noisy construction work now must cease at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
Also changed was the restriction on loud music or amplified sounds, previously restricted in noise-sensitive areas only, and now prohibited everywhere if it causes a public noise disturbance.
At issue, really, are those vehicle stereos that boom so loudly they cause windows to shake and eardrums to throb for anyone other than those inside the vehicle.
The ordinance previously stated those thunderous tunes could not emit further from the vehicle than 50 ft. Council members Gerry Kuhl and Coleen Chipman wanted the distance changed to 25 feet.
Last Tuesday, Chipman said she was concerned a 50-foot ordinance would still allow for people who live in neighborhoods where homes are very close together, as in multi-family residences, to blast loud stereos in their own driveways and still disturb their neighbors.
Heiar said at 25 feet, you don’t have to have music blasting to be able to hear it.
“You’re going to hear the bass from 100 feet. We did a little measurement in our parking lot to determine just how loud your music would be at 25 feet. If you had your radio up at 50 percent volume, you could hear that music at 25 feet, and you could get a call. The concern is you could potentially get a lot of those calls,” Heair said.
Council member Brian Wayson said 25 feet is too close and was not enforceable.
“Otherwise, people talking back and forth at over 25 feet could be causing a problem,” Wayson said. “I’m comfortable with leaving it at 50 feet.”
Chipman said if the police department gets a call about a loud noise, they would not be able to do anything about it if the ordinance stays at 50 feet.
“If you had someone with a fairly loud radio and a baby sleeping, will they be able to call the police and have something done?” she asked.
“I would say yes,” Heiar said, as it has not been a problem for the police department as written, and each disturbance call takes a different priority. “We are going to respond to that call.”
“As long as we are able to address the other noise, then I would be okay with 50 feet,” Chipman conceded.