Proposal: Adjust enforcement times, lower decibel limit
Gahanna City Council next month is expected to hear the first reading of a revised noise ordinance that, if passed, would turn down the volume.
Based on feedback from residents and council members, city attorney Shane Ewald has proposed adjusting the enforcement times, reducing the decibel level (dBA) and removing the maximum peak decibel requirement.
Council is considering legislation that would limit noise to a reading of 60 dBA for residential areas from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 55 dBA from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. For businesses, the maximum readings would be 65 dBA from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 60 dBA from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, those times would be adjusted to 65 dBA from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and 60 dBA from 11:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The code currently permits 70 dBA in commercial areas and 55 dBA in residential districts from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. It is 75 dBA in commercial areas and 65 dBA in residential areas from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Council amended noise-control legislation by emergency in July, allowing police to measure the sound level from the source of the noise instead of the source of the complaint. Since then, council has been considering other changes to the law.
During a council committee session Sept. 24, several members spoke in support of keeping the earlier 9 p.m. enforcement time during the workweek.
Councilman Ryan Jolley said it was a compromise to allow higher sound limits on the weekends.
"I personally think a 9 p.m. cutoff for that sound would be more appropriate," he said.
Enforcement is expected to become easier for police, thanks to the removal of a maximum peak reading. Instead officers could average the sound over two minutes via dBA measuring devices, cutting out the potential for skewed readings from other interference, such as passing vehicles.
"We can focus solely on the two-minute average," Gahanna Police Lt. Dan Williams said. "It allows us to attribute the noise reading that we get to the actual source."
Under the proposal, the first offense would be a minor misdemeanor; second and subsequent offenses within 12 months of the first offense would be changed to an unclassified misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $1,000 and 500 hours of community service.
Council is expected to hear the first reading of the ordinance during its next meeting, slated for 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at City Hall, 200 S. Hamilton Road.