BISBEE — An amendment to an existing nuisance ordinance was tabled by the mayor and Bisbee City Council after a long discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting.
The proposed amendment to the city’s nuisance ordinance would protect neighbors and communities from certain noisy disruptions and “anything injurious to the health or morals or is indecent or offensive to the senses,” set a start time limit on construction and impose higher fines to residents or businesses who ignore the code.
City Manager Theresa Coleman told Mayor David Smith and councilmembers Anna Cline, Leslie Johns, Bill Higgins, Joni Giacomino and Louis Pawlick there had been numerous complaints of noise from residents all over the city about workers starting at 6 a.m. in the morning.
“There have been noises in neighborhoods that have disturbed residents before what they consider normal waking times,” she said. “This will set parameters for those who work in the city to be more cognizant of folks and families who have other obligations.”
The amendment allows the city manager to permit waivers of start and finish times and is an important distinction, according to Smith.
Pawlick took issue with legislating “morals and indecency” saying the terms were “highly subjective and open to interpretation,” and believed the increase of fines to $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second and $2,500 for the third was “exorbitant.”
He then made a motion to table it for a rewrite.
Currently, the fine for starting work prior to the 6 a.m. start time is just $50, Smith noted.
“This is a deterrent,” continued Smith. “$50 is not a deterrent. The contractor will just pay the $50 and start at 4 a.m. and decides to get started sooner and wakes up the neighborhood getting ready for the job.”
Smith went on to say the language of the amendment was subject to change from one circumstance to another. Something done on a Saturday may not be as objectionable as something done on a Tuesday. If the language is specific the city “runs the risk of leaving something out.” He agrees with the way the ordinance is worded and noted the “fines are appropriate.”
Pawlick stood by his opinion and said the wording should be struck from the ordinance.
Giacomino thought the start time should be 7 a.m. and construction crews should not start moving of equipment and supplies prior to the start time.
Cline also took issue with construction companies who begin making noise early in the morning.
“Just bringing in bulldozers or whatever they need is going to make noise,” said Cline. “I think there may be some work needed on that.”
She also pointed out the language Pawlick and Higgins objected to was in the city’s current code.
Smith said, “This is not new language.”
When the vote was taken on the motion to table the item, it was approved in a split vote. Pawlick, Higgins, Johns and Giacomino voted in favor. Smith and Cline opposed it.