No more noise? Wheaton City Council passes sound limit ordinance

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 1:30 a.m. CDT

WHEATON – Thanks to a new ordinance passed by the Wheaton City Council, there will be a bit more than just the threat of a banging broomstick against a ceiling when it comes to noisy neighbors.

The Council unanimously passed an amended ordinance on Sept. 16 requiring businesses, residents and other organizers of outdoor festivities to obtain a permit one week before their event, enforcing a 55 decibel sound limit outside of the hours between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Jim Kozik, Wheaton's director of economic development and planning, said that the 55 decibel level is comparable to the sound of an "average" television set heard from three feet away.

City Manager Don Rose said that there had been a number of noise-related complaints in the last several years, and that this new policy was mostly about updating a law that hadn't been evaluated in recent decades.

"The city code portion of the ordinance really didn't give the police any guidance," Rose said. "It talked about noise, but it didn't really define noise. So part of it was just giving more definition to the city code portion of the ordinance."

According to city documents, a "'noise disturbance' means any sound which annoys, disturbs or perturbs reasonable persons with normal sensitivities."

Examples include playing any audio equipment, loud and raucous "sounds with the human voice" and using devices such as blowhorns or other emergency warning devices "where an actual emergency does not exist."

The required event permit, which implies compliance with the noise ordinance, is free, Rose said

Sounds emitted by domestic animals, electrical generators during power outages and railroad cars, among others, are explicitly exempt from the ordinance. And local sports fans need not worry: schools, colleges and public parks are also exempt between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.

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