In a 4-1 vote during the February 16th city commission meeting, the elected officials approved introducing the new noise ordinance. The proposed Ordinance, No. 22-O-13, prohibits “noise disturbances.”
`The new ordinance allows police officer to initiate complaints and provides a distinction in application based on land use.
Commissioner Jack Porter was in opposition to the ordinance.
For several years noise disturbances have caused disruptions around the city, increasingly so since the onset of the pandemic. Large parking lot gatherings have become more popular since nightclubs and bars were closed due to safety measures.
The gatherings have led to residential area disturbances, illegal activities, and sometimes violent crimes. Currently, TPD cannot adequately enforce instances of excessive noise with the current noise ordinance.
The commissioners reviewed two choices for the noise ordinance. In both ordinance options, a noise disturbance is defined as “sound which is unreasonably loud, raucous, or jarring to a reasonable person of normal sensitivities and which is plainly audible to a police officer or code enforcement officer,” at a distance of 100 feet or greater.
Also, both options allow the police officer to be the complainant, whereas the original regulation requires the complaint to come from a citizen. Therefore, the changes permit the officer to handle the situation using their best discretion.
Furthermore, both options hold property owners accountable for noise nuisance and allow officers to enforce noise standards such as dispersion of crowds and increase penalties.
The proposed civil penalties in the ordinances are $250 for a first violation, $350 for a second violation, and finally $500 for a third offense and any subsequent violations.
The primary difference between the two choices is that the second option eliminates the distinction between residential and urban core, where sound is only regulated between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Thus, bars and nightclubs would be subject to a complaint during operating hours, up to 2:00 a.m., which could potentially strain TPD resources unnecessarily.
The public hearing for the approved noise ordinance is scheduled for March 9th, 2022.