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Danbury considers 'plainly audible standard' for noise complaints

Danbury is taking several steps in an effort to reduce noise complaints in the City by making current laws more enforceable and adding new laws.  The noise ordinance is being overhauled.  The proposed changes are targeting noise eminating from vehicles whether it's the exhaust system or amplifiers.  Police or a noise control officer will be able to cite people using a so-called "plainly audible standard". 


The biggest change gets rid of the requirement for a noise reader and adopts a standard called plainly audible.  Excessive noise and plainly audible applies to public safety officials being able to hear their emergency radios, the public being able to hear sirens and the like.


Due to unprecedented amount of complaints last summer, Mayor Mark Boughton said this action is needed.  Currently, a decibel meter is needed to judge excessive noise.  One of the incidents was during the Memorial Day Service.  Music was being played so loudly in cars that people in attendance could hear the speakers.


Committee member Joe Cavo expressed concern that what one person thinks is loud, someone else may not think it's loud.  He gave the example of his factory standard motorcycle.  He said some people think that's loud, but it doesn't bother him. 


Councilman Paul Rotello made the point that if a car or motorcycle is driving by, it likely won't prompt a complaint.  He said it's more the prolonged noise.


Penalties are tiered. It's $25 for the first violation, $50 for the next, and $75 for a third violation.  If there are multiple violations in one day, it could be escalated to a criminal violation such as a charge of breach of peace.  The first remedy would be an infraction, but if someone keeps violating the law it would move to a criminal offense resulting in arrest.


There are certain exemptions for municipal, state and federal activities.  Examples included school sanctioned activities, permitted parades and the like.  One question was raised about when the Danbury Westerners play at Rogers Park.  The sound system at the baseball field isn't necessarily what's prompting noise complaints, it's music from cars in the nearby parking lots before or after the games.


There have been complaints about garbage truck or other truck activity.  Language was included in the updated ordinance about commercial truck activity.  It's up to the city on how to enforce the ordinance, there is no firm language requiring that trucks going about their business be stopped.  If officials want something to be done, it can be.


A few part timers might be needed for enforcement because most of the violations happen on the weekends.  Mayor Mark Boughton says he may bring that proposal to the City Council in an effort to increase enforcement.


A public hearing is needed on the proposed changes.  Much of the ordinance is not regulated by the state, but some is.  The ordinance must therefore be sent to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection after approval from the City Council.

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