The second reading of a noise ordinance Bexley City Council is considering drew questions from police, residents and council members at an Aug. 26 meeting.
Councilwoman Deneese Owen, chairwoman of council's Safety Committee, is sponsoring the ordinance that would limit sound levels in institutional and residential settings to 50 decibels between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 60 decibels between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
In commercial settings, decibel levels would be limited to 65 decibels between 9 p.m. and 70 decibels between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Owen said the legislation was drafted after exhaustive research into related issues, such as the complexities of the technology used to measure decibel levels.
Police Chief Larry Rinehart said the ordinance could potentially provide officers with tools to better respond to noise complaints.
"I do like the idea of quantifiable decibel levels," he said.
The ordinance generated debate among council members, city officials and residents at the meeting about the subjective nature of noise complaints and the technological difficulty of obtaining accurate decibel level measurements.
Montrose Avenue resident Nancy Belay said she doesn't like the fact that the ordinance includes exemptions for educational institutions, especially Capital University. Throughout the past year, the university has been working with the city and the South Bexley Community Association to revise a plan to add lights and a new sound system to Capital's Bernlohr Stadium. The plan was tabled indefinitely.
Belay said she's concerned that an exemption could lead to increased noise at games and other events at the university.
"I really don't get the exemption for Capital University," she said.
The ordinance is up for a third reading at council's Sept. 9 meeting.
In other business Aug. 26, council heard testimony from residents and area landlords about the proposed Bexley Residential Rental Inspection and Maintenance program, which would charge landlords $25 a year to register a unit and another $25 for a required annual inspection. Owners who did not comply would face penalties such as fines; those who signed up for a self-inspection program after the first year would get a discount.
Residents and landlords expressed concerns that the program could violate property owners' and renters' rights to privacy.
Councilman Steve Keyes, chairman of council's Zoning and Development Committee, said the program is only in the discussion phase and that the city will work to strike a balance between ensuring properties are well-maintained and respecting the rights of property owners and renters.