Village Council revisits noise ordinance
- Published: October 17, 2022
At their Monday, Oct. 3 meeting, Village Council members heard the first reading of an ordinance aimed at controlling noise throughout the Village. If passed, the ordinance will replace one last amended in 2006.
Council President Brian Housh said he was happy with the ordinance as a first step toward addressing noise complaints.
“I think we had a good meeting [Sept. 19] about the balance of the needs of downtown businesses and concerns from residents,” Housh said. “This [ordinance] will shore up some of the challenges around enforcement.”
Police Chief Paige Burge discussed the process of writing the legislation. The 2006 legislation said that sound should be measured by a certified Noise Control Engineer, or NCO, who has to use a sound measuring instrument to determine if the sound was in violation with the ordinance.
In a memo to Council, Burge said that she was concerned that YSPD has no certified NCO on staff.
“Restrictions on qualified NCOs … as well as measurement device restrictions render this [legislation] useless,” Burge said.
The goal of the new legislation, Burge said, was simply to describe restrictions, provide a basis for officer objectivity and provide less restrictive procedures so the ordinance can be enforced.
“[This ordinance] gives very specific guidelines to officers,” Burge said.
Included in the legislation are parameters for when villagers or members of the workforce can make loud noises, or “noises of such a character intensity and duration as to unreasonably disturb the peace and quiet of the community.” These noises could include construction work, lawn mowing and other sources. Such noises will be prohibited before 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, before 9 a.m. on weekends and holidays and after 10 p.m. each night.
The legislation also addresses noise from vehicles, saying that vehicle owners should not cause any noise that is audible from 50 feet from the vehicle, with the exception of the vehicle’s horn.
This part of the legislation is aimed at curtailing noise from motorcycles and vehicles without mufflers.
As the legislation reads, officers will have a fair amount of discretion when determining if a violation merits the penalty of a Fouth-degree misdemeanor. Officers will consider the time of day, the number of complaints about a single event, the intensity and duration of the noise, the type of noise and the alternatives available to generating the noise.
Burge said officers would be equipped with guidelines for noise levels, mentioning decibel levels that were not included in the legislation. In response to a question from Housh, Burge said the decibel level language would be included in the police department’s internal procedure and policy manual.
Council members Marianne MacQueen and Gavin DeVore Leonard asked questions about the legislation, particularly how the time constraints were determined.
“What’s the rationale?” MacQueen asked.
Burge said that the legislation attempts to strike a balance between the needs of businesses, who may need to conduct business before 8 a.m. and residents. In response to DeVore Leonard’s suggestion that the time be pushed back to 8 a.m, villager and downtown business owner Mark Heise said that deliveries are often made to downtown businesses early in the morning.
“We are lucky they come [to deliver in Yellow Springs] later,” Heise said.
Council Clerk Judy Kintner said that some jobs, such as roofing, needed to begin early in the day to avoid high temperatures that come later in the day.
Before closing out the discussion, Housh attempted to address concerns voiced by residents through texts, letters to Council and letters to the editor.
“This is the first step,” Housh said. “I am very supportive about the motorcycle noise level in particular, and I look forward to continuing to think about it.”
In other Council business, Oct. 3:
Council members passed a resolution recognizing Oct. 15, 2022, as Wheeling Gaunt Day, commemorating the one year anniversary of the unveiling of the Wheeling Gaunt statue at Hilda M. Rahn Park near the train station. Gaunt, a Black landowner and philanthropist, purchased his freedom from a slave owner in Kentucky before purchasing property in Yellow Springs. Gaunt’s legacy includes the dedication of Gaunt Park and the yearly flour and sugar distribution for people whose spouses have died in the village. Housh, who gave brief comments before voting on the legislation, said the Village is working with The 365 Project and other local groups to commemorate the day with activities and opportunities to learn more about the esteemed villager.
Council Clerk Judy Kitner gave the treasurer’s report, which showed positive growth of the Village’s investment portfolios due to higher interest rates. The Village currently has $11,037,095 under “active investment,” which reflects an increase of $566,678 since the last report in January 2022.
The Village’s funds are currently held in three accounts — Wesbanco, Raymond James and Star Ohio, though the current balance in Star Ohio is zero. Kintner said that the investment committee, which met Sept. 22, recommended moving funds to the Star Ohio account so that interest could be accrued at a higher rate, which was at 2.66% as of Sept. 22.
DeVore Leonard, who has been a part of the finance committee since he joined Council in May 2022, said he was “confident in the investment strategies.” Housh said he agreed that the Village has been doing a good job of finding ways to earn money from their accounts.
“We used to pay for our money to be in the bank,” Housh said.
Credit card statement
Included with the Council packet was a monthly statement that included the Village’s credit card statements from August. According to the report, the Village charged a total of $11,193.17 for purchases that included office and cleaning supplies, phone equipment, a computer for a Village Council member and vehicle parts. In an emailed response to the News about the $799.99 computer purchase, Kintner said that any Council member who needed a computer for Council business was given one, to be returned after their tenure on Council. During the meeting, MacQueen asked about two charges totaling $1,442.36 attributed to the Village’s Touch-a-Truck event. Village Manager Josué Salmerón said the charges were for wristbands, cups and hats that staff members gave away during the event. Each purchase, Salmerón said, was paid for from the coinciding utility account — water, electric and streets.
Additional coverage of the Monday, Oct. 3 meeting will appear in next week’s issue of the News.