October 18, 2017

City getting closer on noise ordinance adjustments

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WEST BRANCH — After the third city council meeting, as well as a planning commission meeting, the city of West Branch appears close to updating its noise ordinance.

The issue was again discussed in length at the city’s Aug. 7 meeting, with debate over what times the ordinance would be in effect, whether those times would change during the school year, and if businesses would be excluded from the ordinance.

“I think we’re all overthinking this,” Mayor Denise Lawrence said at the end of the discussion. “I’m overthought now.”

City Manager Heather Grace provided council members with two options in their packets prior to the meeting, but noted at the beginning of the discussion that she wasn’t necessarily expecting the council to choose one or the other at the meeting.

The major difference between the two options was the time the ordinance would be in effect. The first option would limit noise between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on any other days. The second option was the same, except the time the ordinance would be in effect would change to between 9 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday during the months of January, February, March, April, May, September, October, November and December, when kids are generally in school and the sun sets earlier.

Throughout much of the discussion, council members differed on the two options, with several adding that they would like to see provisions added for businesses, such as the bars downtown, so they weren’t limited on when they could have live music.

The current noise ordinance came to light after a local resident, Dave Warner, complained about the noise being made by a local band that was practicing in a downtown business.

Part of the issue is due to two city ordinances that somewhat contradict each other, making it difficult to enforce. City council members and the planning commission have recommended they be combined into a single ordinance so it is more clear.

No vote was taken at Monday’s meeting. However, council members came to a consensus that they would like to see the ordinance redrafted as being in effect from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Grace said she would bring a rewritten option to the next city council meeting.

When asked, police Chief Ken Walters said the city police would do what the city council asked, but he didn’t think there had ever been an issue with people complaining about downtown businesses.

“We’re going to do whatever you guys send down the pike,” Walters said. “I don’t recall, ever in all my years, I don’t recall someone making a complaint about music coming out of Logger’s or any other establishment. It’s kind of an expected thing.”

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Skywarp

So, one guy has a hissyfit, and the city council has to jump into action.

Makes sense.

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