In a 4-1 vote June 7, the Parker Town Council approved a new noise ordinance, which includes specific decibel level guidelines for the first time. The ordinance, which staff started working on in May …
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In a 4-1 vote June 7, the Parker Town Council approved a new noise ordinance, which includes specific decibel level guidelines for the first time.
The ordinance, which staff started working on in May 2020, mainly addresses outdoor amplified sound and provides guidelines for measuring decibel levels in downtown, commercial and residential areas.
“The point of the ordinance was to provide an updated, modern noise ordinance with objective decibel level standards,” said John Fussa, the town's director of community development.
The previous sound ordinance only provided noise guidelines for times of day instead of sound levels.
The town began looking at this issue after receiving “a substantial number” of complaints about “sound and noise associated with outdoor live music in the downtown area on Main Street,” Fussa said.
Town staff soon realized that the noise ordinance, which impacts the whole town, was due for an update, Fussa said. Last year, the town conducted a sound analysis of the community, measuring average ambient sound during the day and night in different parts of town. The average ambient sound levels in the town, according to the expert study, ranged from 49 to 64 decibels during the day, depending on the area.
In the June 7 town meeting, several members of the public who spoke during public comment mentioned the Tailgate Tavern & Grill as a source of noise downtown. Other businesses mentioned included the Blu Note Bar & Grill and the not-yet-opened Wild Goose Saloon. Owners of these businesses could not immediately be reached for comment.
Several residents who live in the downtown area spoke during the meeting about their frustrations with the ongoing noise and some said they don't think the new ordinance will do enough to address the problem.
Town staff confirmed that before this ordinance was adopted, there were downtown businesses that played sound louder than the newly adopted levels.
“In downtown there were establishments generating amplified outdoor sound above the new decibel level standards,” Fussa said.
The ordinance was not made to target specific businesses or areas of the town, Fussa said.
“There was a need to do this because the ordinance — until it was amended monday night — was very limited and we thought it needed updating,” he said.
The loudest level permitted under the new ordinance is 75 decibels in the greater downtown area, which is allowed from Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The lowest level permitted is 50 decibels in the residential area, which is allowed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
There are various other levels outlined for different days of the week and hours of the day.
Under the new ordinance, violators will be fined up to $499 for each violation. However, The Parker Police Department will focus on education.
“Our enforcement methodologies are taking an approach of education first before we actually start doing enforcement,” said Police Chief Jim Tsurapas in the meeting. “We would probably save (a citation) as a last resort, for those that are repeat offenders and that aren't complying.”
There are several exceptions outlined in the ordinance, including one extra hour of outdoor loudspeakers on the weekend during summer months. There are also potential exemptions for community events or temporary use permits.
While the new town policy doesn't apply to traffic sounds, it does include specifications for construction noise — but only for hours, not decibel levels. Other noise complaints outside of what is included in the new ordinance are considered issues of disturbing the peace.
The full ordinance, which won't be effective until June 27, is provided in a link in the agenda from the June 7 meeting. The agenda can be found by visiting ParkerOnline.org/2118 and selecting the Town Council meeting from June 7 under “most recent events.”
Councilmember Cheryl Poage voted against the ordinance after saying she was concerned about it applying to residential areas.
“This now puts an ordinance on top of all residential property owners based on a resolution that we're trying to put in place to fix stuff that's coming from a commercial area,” Poage said.
Other council members said they were satisfied with the ordinance for the time being.
“I think that is a place to start,” Councilmember Anne Barrington said. “I don't know that it's going to be perfect but I'm definitely willing to revisit it down the road if it's not.”
The ordinance was reviewed in March but because there were two empty council seats, it was continued to June, after the April election.
Councilmember Joshua Rivero was absent from the meeting.
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