After hearing mixed reviews from local business owners and residents, the Washington City Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution to amend the Sound and Noise Control section of the Washington City Code.
The process of amending the code began around June last year, when city manager Jonathan Russell told the city council that the noise ordinance needed updating to be constitutional. He said the current ruling – which has caused some frustration among local businesses, especially those offering live music several times a month – is about a page and a half, and at least 8 to 10 pages needed to be added to bring it modern.
Washington Police and Fire Chief Stacy Drakeford was instructed to update the ruling. He said the decree was in effect when it was written, but now it needs to be updated.
Drakeford said he analyzed noise regulations in 14 other municipalities, including some larger than Washington and smaller.
“What has really changed from this whole process is that now in our city code it allows people to play (music) until 11pm Monday to Friday,” Drakeford said. So people are contributing, because knowing how everything actually works in the real world other than these codes, now 11 hours, they get an extra 15-20 minutes to play this latest set of songs, and so now you look at 11: 30. … So I said, let’s move this to 10 p.m.,
“However,” Drakeford added, “people didn’t realize there was an exception; all you have to do is ask to play until 11. But then at 11 you are done. Until 11:30, a quarter to 12, there will be no additional games. At 11:30 you’re done. “
The new regulation includes some changes to the sound level limits for specific occupancy classifications. For the classification of living quarters the decibel limit is 60 from 7 am to 22 pm and 50 from 22 to 7 am; for public spaces, commercial and business areas the limit is 65 decibels from 7 am to 22 pm and 55 decibels from 22 to 7 am; and for industrial, industrial, and agricultural classifications the limit is 75 decibels at all times.
“Sound levels that exceed the limits set (above) will not be allowed … and are prohibited unless permission / permission to exceed the sound is obtained in the open air,” the updated ruling said.
The ordinance states that permits for exceeding should not last more than 23:00, except on New Year’s Eve.
According to the ordinance, sound level measurements will be made using “at least an ANSI-compliant Type II sound level meter, using an A-weighted scale set to“ slow ”response”. People who use meters “should be trained in sound level measurement and the operation of special equipment to measure the sound level used.”
Seven people spoke during a public hearing before the city council voted in favor of the noise decree.
Mohamed Darar, a member of the Mulberry House brewery team, spoke out against the proposed ruling.
Darar stressed that the decision on the decree will have a broad impact on local businesses such as him.
“I want you to imagine that we are going to the beach, we are going to Belize, we are going to any place on vacation,” Darar said. “I sleep at 8 or 9 at night (usually). When I go on vacation, I don’t sleep at 8 or 9. I stay until 2-3. I try to enjoy the culture of this city. “
Darar said he works and lives in downtown Washington.
“If you want peace and quiet, downtown is not your place,” Darar said.
“We need everyone in the city center to be welcomed around the clock,” Darar said.
Darar argued that the ruling was written in terms of law enforcement.
“I’m a brand new business; I have not heard of this invitation to share my voice.
Darar suggested the city form a committee of local stakeholders who could evaluate and discuss the proposed decree before it is approved.
“But don’t follow ordinances to disgrace my business and other businesses,” he said.
Dot Mout, a resident of Washington, suggested moving the music off to midnight. She said she proposed including an exception in the ordinance for businesses in the main street area; she said Drakeford told her it was impossible.
Several locals spoke in support of the proposed resolution. Michael Daly said he moved to Washington from the city of college because of the “calm, quiet courtesy” of the area, and he wants to “live here with these polite and quiet people and retire here.”
“I support this decree,” said Claude Hodges. “It’s very reasonable. This city needs it.
Beth Gleason, who at the previous meeting called herself the former owner and current silent partner of Parley’s Sip & Steam, also supported the decision.
“We did a lot of research as owners because we wanted it to work for everyone and for the common good,” Gleason said. “And I think Chief Drakeford did an amazing job. I think that’s what we can all live with. He gives us exceptions. It gives us the opportunity to get permits if we need something more that is stated here. “