DOUGLAS— A new noise ordinance will go into effect beginning Nov. 13 prohibiting any kind of noise that is excessive, disruptive and/or that annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals; or endangers or injures personal or property.
The ordinance unanimously passed its third reading at the Oct. 14 Douglas City Council meeting.
Douglas Police Chief Kraig Fullen has previously stated that noise complaints have been a concern for residents and an ongoing enforcement challenge for his department.
With that in mind he recommended some updates to the noise ordinance of the Douglas Municipal Code.
The ordinance will be enforced between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Penalties could range from a warning to either a civil or criminal citation that would carry fines of $100, $250 or $500 depending on the number of times officers are called back to the location the noise is coming from.
According to the ordinance, “The following activities are prohibited if they produce: Any loud, unnecessary, or unusual noise that is excessive, disruptive, and/or annoying; is continuous or intermittent for a period of at least 15 minutes; or occurs after 10 p.m. but before 6 a.m.; and are plainly audible beyond the property line of the property on which conducted; and disturbs the peace and quiet of a neighborhood or a reasonable person of normal sensibilities or special event.”
Douglas resident Humberto Otero addressed the mayor and council during the Call to the Public on this item, saying his Fourth of July had been “ruined” by a neighbor who hired a band to play until 9 p.m. during which time he and his guests could hardly hear each other speak while trying to enjoy a quiet evening. Shortly after 9 p.m. the band quit playing but then a stereo began blaring its music until after 2:30 a.m. Otero stated he did call the DPD on more than one occasion but nothing was done.
“Needless to say, my family and my Fourth of July was ruined,” he said. “If this is not disturbing the peace I don’t know what is.”
“The intent behind the amendment to the ordinance is to address the specific issue Mr. Otero has shared with the hours of when the ordinance is in effect, which right now is 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.” Chief Fullen responded. “But with the amendments as proposed it would allow us to enforce the noise if it happens to cross the property boundary at any point. Our first response that evening will be a warning. If we return that same evening they are subject to a fine.”
Other specifics of the ordinance that may be subject to warning or fine:
•Owning, possessing, harboring or permitting any animal or bird that frequently or for continuous duration howls, barks, meows, squawks or makes other sounds, as is operating, using, playing or permitting the operation, use or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, tape or CD player, musical instrument, sound amplifier or similar device that produces, reproduces or amplifies sound.
•Operating or permitting the operation of any sound amplification system in or on a vehicle in such a manner that the sound is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet, or in such a manner that it causes a person’s normal sensitivities to be aware of vibration accompanying the sound at a distance of 50 feet.
•Maintaining or operating an outdoor speaker that is affixed to any structure or placed upon any property where: the speaker is audible for a distance of more than 50 feet from the source; or the speaker is 250 feet or closer to a location that is zoned or developed for residential use. This restriction shall not apply to intercommunication systems that are utilized from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the sole purpose of conducting the internal business affairs of the establishment. This provision does not prohibit the use of an outdoor speaker where an exemption has been granted by the city manager or designee.
“The intent is for self-compliance,” Chief Fullen said. “Ideally we would like people to comply with the ordinance based off of the warning. If there is a need for us to go back a second night, they would be subject to a citation the following night. This calls for any subsequent violation within a 120-day period.”
“We encourage people to inform their neighbors and let them know this is what they’ve got going on,” Mayor Donald Huish said.
“And maybe even be a good neighbor and invite them over.”