by Jody Reese
City living can be a
bit noisy ó too noisy in many cases. Passing motorcycles can overpower a
conversation or drown out the television. The bone-jarring bass blasting
from cars can sound like someone is coming through the wall with a
jackhammer. The church bells near my house can get so loud they wake me
up on Sunday mornings.
Some days, I wish I
could make it all go away. Itís those days I go for a hike.
Itís noisier to live in
a city than in a small rural town. In fact the things that drew us to
live in a city make it louder ó festivals, parks, restaurants, bars,
parades, concerts, baseball games and gatherings. Of course, itís only
human to expect our neighbors to keep it down when weíre trying to
Not all noise problems
can be solved by common sense. Sometimes city ordinances are needed to
solve problems, including noise pollution. New York City has an
elaborate set of noise ordinances that can result in fines as high as
$6,000 for one offense.
government is proposing a noise plan of its own and it includes a fee
that must be paid anytime an event might be nosier than 60 decibels, or
about the level of an electric razor.
A noise ordinance can
be very valuable, but not this time.
This ordinance is less
about getting rid of noise and more about the city making money on the
$200 permit fee that would be required for anyone producing noise above
the level of a normal conversation. This ordinance is really a festival
tax that could apply to the Fisher Cats, Glendi, the Downtown Jazz &
Blues Festival and any bar or club that has music on its patio, not to
mention many other school, community and religious events.
The city already has a
noise ordinance to deal with loaded car stereos and motorcycle
tailpipes. There are also already laws on the books that prevent
neighbors from playing their stereos too loudly.
Besides trying to nab
that $200 fee, Iím guessing this noise ordinance has something to do
with the Singer Family Park concert series held more than three years
ago. In that case loud music echoed up and down the river.
Even if the city is
still concerned about that type of loud concert, it could require a
special sound license for any group that expects more than 7,500 people
to be gathered in one place, at one time to hear a music act. This
ordinance should specifically exclude community festivals.