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Danbury beefs up noise ordinance

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 original ordinance adopted in 1987, now some 30 years later is getting an update.


The plainly audible standard is objective, specific and easily understandable--and carried out by a trained official police or noise control officer.


City Attorney Les Pinter took on the misconception that playing music at any volume is Free Speech.  He says there's nothing in the Constitution that allows people to play music really loud noting that it's free speech when it's at a reasonable level.


Noise violations carry a $75 fine.  The amount hasn't been changed since the ordinance was created.  State statute allows for fines of up to $250.


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.


Councilman Tom Saadi says he's heard from some people that these proposals are an unreasonable, excessive government intrusion into people's private lives.  But he says the problem is the City has to address unreasonable excessive conduct that interferes with other people's enjoyment of their property.  Saadi says there are unwritten rules everyone must conduct themselves by and when they don't, they violate that social compact and government has to step in.


The proposed Neighborhood Preservation Zone ordinance includes the definition of outdoor group activity and five violations which would prompted a $250 fine.


The ordinance allows the City to assess back, to the violator, the cost of the enforcement.  Pinter said that doesn't appear in many laws, but because this type of enforcement is costly.  It doesn't mean that the City will use this provision, but that it could in cases where it's warranted.

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