Shhhhhh! Springdale considers limiting decibel levels to keep town quiet

Springdale Town Hall, Springdale, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the town of Springdale, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — To preserve the “natural quiet” of Springdale, town officials are considering an ordinance that would limit the decibel-level of noise people are allowed to make.

The proposed ordinance would revise the town’s current noise policy, which prohibits making “unnecessary, unnatural or unusually loud noises” which are “a detriment to the public health, comfort, convenience, safety, welfare, prosperity, and peace and quiet of the residents of the town.”

While the town already has rules against excessive noise, the current code has no standards for what constitutes a “loud noise,” making it difficult to enforce the noise ordinance as it is.

The intent of this revision to the noise ordinance is to provide us those objective criteria that our enforcers can use in regulating noise in Springdale so that it’s clear to everybody in the community … what the standards are and how much noise is okay and how much noise is too much noise,” Tom Dansie, director of community development, said.

The number of decibels allowed would depend on the time of day and the area of town.

For residential, planned development and agricultural zones, noise would be limited to 85 decibels between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., 55 decibels from 8-10 p.m. and 40 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

For commercial and public use areas, noise would be limited to 95 decibels between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., 60 decibels from 8-10 p.m. and 45 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The regulation would apply to anything that makes noise, including people, animals, vehicles, generators, tools, speakers, wind chimes and anything else exceeding the decibel limits.

Some commonly used items that would exceed the proposed decibel limits would be leaf blowers, which are 110 decibels, motorcycles, which are 95-110 decibels, and baby cries, which often reach 110 decibels, according to the Center for Hearing and Communication.

Under the proposed ordinance, anyone who exceeded the limits continually for 30 seconds or more, or cumulatively for a period of 90 seconds or more in any 30-minute period would be cited for a Class C misdemeanor.

A citation would be issued only if the noise exceeded the decibel limits when measured from the nearest publicly accessible location or on the nearest private property if a resident were to complain.

Springdale Police, equipped with decibel meters, would be responsible for enforcing the rule.

The ordinance would allow people or organizations to apply for an exemption permit to exceed the noise standards for things such as construction projects and events. Only one permit would be granted per person, per year and would need to be as little as possible to complete the project.

To determine the desired decibel limits, the Springdale Planning Commission looked at the limits that other towns have established, researched the decibel level of common noises and performed field tests by making different noises around town and measuring how loud they were.

The Town Council has asked the planning commission to review the proposed decibel limits and try to find a solution that would allow tools, such as lawnmowers, to be used without penalty before presenting the final draft to the council.

Dansie said that they are considering either raising the decibel limits, or leaving the limits as they are and writing an exemption for yard equipment so as not to restrict the community too much.

“That will be our task in the next month, to go back and look at those decibel limits and see if we can ensure they’re where they need to be,” he said.

The Town Council will continue discussion on the proposed ordinance at its next meeting July 10, at 5 p.m., at the Springdale Town Hall located at 118 Lion Blvd.

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Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

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