Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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Publisher's Note
by Jody Reese

City noise tax

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 sleep.

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.

Manchester city 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.