558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
City considering new noise ordinance
A proposed ordinance was introduced at a Prineville Planning Commission meeting
January 17, 2013
The Prineville Planning Commission opened discussions this week regarding the creation of new noise control ordinance that gives police more enforcement options when complaints arise.
The current ordinance only addresses excessively loud car stereos and sets time constraints for construction work, and the City wants to make the law more inclusive.
“If someone has their stereo cranked all day long on a Sunday or is out at night working on a truck in their back yard all night long keeping people awake … there is nothing that we actually have that is enforceable,” said Prineville Planning Director Scott Edelman.
“We are looking at a noise ordinance that will allow us to actually enforce other noise complaints.”
Not only does the City seek a more inclusive ordinance, they hope to create a law that more clearly defines a noise-related violation. Recent case law has rendered the current ordinance too vague to enforce.
“The courts have found it is not specific enough,” said Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush. “They have not ruled on our ordinance, but they have ruled on ordinances with similar language to ours.”
As they consider a more specific ordinance, the City will face the challenge of determining what those specifics should entail.
“Do you have to have equipment that measures decibels and how practical is that?” Bush offered as a potential concern.
Edelman said that the Planning Commission will consider an ordinance drafted by League of Oregon Cities lawyers that other communities have already adopted.
“You can’t get a perfect one,” he said, “but it’s one that tries to get to those (enforcement) issues at least.”
The ordinance says that no person shall make any unreasonably loud or raucous noise or any noise that unreasonably disturbs, injures, or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace, or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensitivity. It also prohibits any noise that is “so harsh, prolonged, unnatural, or unusual in time or place as to occasion unreasonable discomfort to any persons within the neighborhood from which said noises emanate . . .”
The ordinance includes specific factors for determining a violation including proximity of the sound to a sleeping facility, time of day, duration of sound, and frequency of occurrence.
So far, the Planning Commission has not developed any opinions on the noise ordinance nor directed the City planning staff to make any adjustments to the language.
“It was just introduced as a project,” said Commission Vice-Chair Bob Orlando. “We are going to having ongoing discussions about it. There will probably be at least three more meetings regarding it.”
If the Commission seeks any changes to the ordinance, Edelman said they will direct City planning staff to make the necessary adjustments and bring them a revised document. Once the Commission is comfortable with the language, they will hold a public hearing before making a formal recommendation to the Prineville City Council.
Crook County Planning Commission meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month. To find out when the Planning Commission will discuss the noise ordinance further, call 541-447-5627.