Item No. 3 - Noise Ordinance

Noise ordinance amendments and recommendations.
This is a recording of the July 20, 2020 City Council Study Session.

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Staff Memo ( 1.02 MB )

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This case is closed, online commenting is no longer available.
Online comments closed at 12:00 PM MDT 7/20/20.
Dear Wheat Ridge City Council: Thank you for seeking to strengthen the city's noise ordinance. As a long time resident of this city...it has become painfully clear that we are at a time where like the cities around us....we need to step up and make life wonderful for all in Wheat Ridge. By making changes in the old outdated ordinance we will have an environment that will help both homeowners and businesses. I was at the December study session and appreciate the careful thought put into this matter. I look forward to a clearer...stronger ordinance that will make us all better neighbors. Thank you
July 19, 2020, 2:13 PM
Laura Jenkins
I would like to express my opinion on a potential noise ordinance. I am a long-term Wheat Ridge resident. I love the small town feel and the mixture of homes and businesses that make up our city. I realize that both home owners and business owners truly depend on the existence of the other for our city to thrive. The rights of one cannot super-cede the rights of the other. When it comes to the noise ordinance, we have got to come to a fair compromise that allows a business to cater to the desires of it's patrons while protecting the sanctity of the residences surrounding the business. Music, for example, is for the people at the business. The surrounding homes should not be subjected to having to listen to it for hours on end. The sound does not need to extend beyond the boundaries of that business. I am hoping that you will consider protecting the peaceful nature of my home from the invasion of unwanted noise from neighboring businesses, not only by addressing the issues that we are facing today, but by having the foresight to set boundaries to protect residents during the growth and change that lies in our future. Thank you.
July 17, 2020, 11:07 PM
Shelley Pierce
Dear Wheat Ridge City Council: My husband and I have lived in our home here in Wheat Ridge for 42 years. This is a lovely city and ours is a lovely neighborhood. Like many residential neighborhoods in Wheat Ridge, however, we abut a commercial street with diverse businesses. Nine years ago, a new business opened that had significant consequences for us and our neighbors. The excessive noise due to outdoor bands at T-Bird has destroyed our peace and quiet and substituted instead blaring noise for 4 -6 hours at a time. We have tried multiple approaches to restoring peace or at least mitigating the unwanted noise but to no avail. Mediation did not work due to the unwillingness of the previous owners to comply with conditions listed in the mediation agreement. Police have been very professional in their responses to our calls and have relayed to T-Bird Roadhouse our desire to lower the volume. They have also noted that the current owner used the tactic of having his bands play as loud as he wants for 15 minutes, then rest for a few minutes and then start again for another 15 minutes. By the owner’s reasoning, he is in compliance with the noise ordinance and there is nothing the neighbors can do about it. While we know we have to hear the bands, we do ask that the volume be at a bearable level. Since the Wheat Ridge City Noise Ordinance does not have a decibel reading, it is difficult to get a measured standard for enforcement. We strongly urge the city council to rewrite the noise ordinance to include a 55 db level, as the city of Arvada and unincorporated Jefferson County already do. This adds clarity and an objective, enforceable measure for which businesses can comply and police can enforce. Two weeks ago, several of us measured the dB level in front of our homes at 74-78 dB, more than any homeowner should have to bear. We also urge the council to revisit the minimum 15 minute noise wording of the ordinance, as this can and has been used to get around the intent or at least, the spirit of the law. Thank you for your consideration of your constituents. Strong and stable neighborhoods are an important asset to any city and should be valued by the City of Wheat Ridge. Moe Keller 4325 Iris St. Wheat Ridge
July 17, 2020, 2:56 PM
Moe Keller
Dear Wheat Ridge City Council, I much appreciate that the council will again take up the issue of revising the “unreasonable noise/disturbing the peace” provision of the Wheat Ridge Municipal Code (Sec. 16-103). For a business or person to persistently inflict unreasonable noise on neighbors in a residential area should not be permissible under a common-sense interpretation of Article III, Chapter 16, Sec. 16-103 (a) (4) of the Municipal Code: Any noise, sound source or any person or group of persons engaged in loud and continuing activities which are audible twenty-five (25) or more feet from the noise source or at the property line of the property upon which the noise source is located or upon which such activities are taking place, continuing for a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes. However, the owner of the bar near us informed me (on June 23) and WRPD patrol officers (on July 4) that in his own opinion he can keep within the letter of the ordinance by playing loud music for no longer than 15 minutes, breaking for a period, resuming for not longer than 15 minutes, and so on. Unfortunately, the WRPD on July 4 seemed to accept the bar owner’s interpretation of the ordinance and declined to issue him a citation. The bar owner put this plan into practice after the officers left (evening of July 4). I and my neighbors strongly object to this “on-again-off-again” interpretation of the noise ordinance. It is a bad-faith attempt to evade the intent of the law, whereas the real intent of the noise ordinance is to preserve the peace. Also, it leaves us neighbors with little defense against unreasonable noise. Anyone who has lived for a long period with noise disturbance, as I and my neighbors have had to do, will know that it is not only irritating and annoying, but stressful. The amplified bands hired by the present owner can be heard in our homes (with windows closed) half a block away from the bar, and in our yards the noise distracts from conversation and interferes with the enjoyment of our property. At our neighbor’s home two lots south of the bar, the noise can be as much as 85 decibels. The situation is especially frustrating because we have unsuccessfully made good-faith efforts to resolve the problem: in person with past and present owners, with Jefferson County Mediation Services, and with the WRPD. Wheat Ridge neighborhoods, and not just our own, need a noise ordinance that will be enforceable and that will be clear to everyone. I understand that there are several other noise sources currently disturbing other neighborhoods in the city. For a possible revision of the present noise ordinance, the Council might consider: 1) a 55-decibel limit at 25 feet from the property line of the property from which the noise originates; and 2) some carefully crafted language to eliminate the “on-again-off-again” loophole. Thank you for your attention and for your efforts. Steve Keller 4325 Iris St. Wheat Ridge
July 17, 2020, 2:45 PM
Stephen M. Keller
Date: 7/17/2020 To: Wheat Ridge City Council Re: Wheat Ridge Noise Ordinance Thank you for your renewed interest in revising the Wheat Ridge Noise Ordinance. I appreciate an opportunity to express my views on this issue. As Wheat Ridge (and the entire Metro area) gets more populous, it also gets noisier.  The noise ordinance currently on the books was written to give police a lot of interpretive leeway to negotiate peaceful resolution between neighbors. That may have been all that was needed at the time it was created. But today, with more people and more noise, the ordinance is too vague & subjective to be effective. My personal experience residing in the neighborhood adjoining the Tbird Roadhouse (9701 W 44th Ave) is a case in point. Ever since it opened in 2011, the Tbird has disturbed the peace of our neighborhood with excessive noise from outdoor live amplified music. Through the years, we have tried to work with the owners, managers, police, and mediations to try to find a resolution agreeable to both parties. Each time, our neighborhood has been disappointed by broken promises, lack of mediation enforcement, and disagreements over the interpretation of the noise ordinance itself. We are left with frustration and  continued excessive noise from the Tbird. Our only recourse remaining is to harrass the manager to turn the amplifiers down and submit complaints to the police. The police must then try to interpret the meaning of noise "continuing for 15 minutes". The current manager argues that if the band plays for 15 minutes, breaks, then resumes play, he is in compliance. Police usually throw up their hands and suggest more mediation. I think you can see very clearly that the current Wheat Ridge Noise Ordinance is confusing and ineffective. I want to thank my neighbors, especially  Moe and Steve Keller, for their knowledge,  guidance, and continuing resolve. Some neighborhoods would have just given up and accepted this intrusion into their lives. Moe and Steve have brought us together and encouraged us to hold firm in this long process. Neighboring communities, such as Golden, Arvada, and Lakewood,  have updated their noise ordinances to include sound measurement technology and decibel requirements for varying zoned areas and circumstances. This approach provides objective data that is enforceable. As an example, Jefferson County's Noise Abatement Policy for residential areas is as follows:      55 decibels from 7AM to 7PM      50 decibels from 7PM to 7AM the following day             (Measured 25 ft from noise source property line) This example provides a reasonable day/night differential, clear requirements, and objective measurement. The ordinance is not subject to interpretation and is enforceable. Ours is not the only neighborhood facing excessive noise disturbance. I expect this to become an even bigger problem as Wheat Ridge continues to grow. In December 2019, the Wheat Ridge City Council was considering a hybrid noise ordinance that would set decibel limitations for residential, commercial, and industrial zones.  Also, the phrase "continuous for more than 15 minutes" is confusing and needs definition or removal. Please review and update the Wheat Ridge Noise Ordinance. Thank you very much!
July 17, 2020, 1:07 PM
Kathryn J. Emmack
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