Police Chief Presents Noise Ordinance to Council

The Londonderry Town Council has reviewed the draft of a noise ordinance for the town, with a public hearing to be held in an upcoming meeting before final adoption.

The Council heard from Police Chief Bill Hart regarding the ordinance at the May 16 meeting.

The ordinance is an amendment to Title IV, Chapter XIV of the Municipal Code.

The ordinance states that the town is responsible for regulating noise and promoting “safety, welfare, prosperity, peace and quiet.” To accomplish this, it reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to make, create, maintain or simulate any excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noises which are prolonged, unusual and unnatural in their time and place.” The proposed ordinance goes on to state that the “loud, unnecessary or unusual” noises are prohibited from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., unless such noise is exempt.

“Exempted noise” includes the operation of vehicles, machines or equipment while engaged in snow clearance, providing it is done within three days of a winter storm and an accumulation of at least 3 inches of snow; exempts municipal maintenance work where the abutters have been notified; exempts activities of a temporary nature for which a permit has been granted by the town; and exempts all public works and public safety equipment required for the “effective delivery of public services.”

Hart explained the “activities of a temporary nature” as something similar to a road race followed by a barbecue or other celebratory party. It would also cover events generated by the Londonderry Old Home Day, he said.

Hart said he had been requested by Town Manager Kevin Smith to draft a noise ordinance. “I looked at a lot of different models, including Exeter and Hooksett,” he said. “There was a continuum, everything from very limited regulations to banning everything.”

While Londonderry’s draft is somewhere in between, Hart got specific in Section 3, calling out “radios, stereos, musical instruments, phonographs” with louder volume than is necessary for hearing for the people in the “room, vehicle or chamber in which such machine or device is operated and who are voluntary listeners thereto.” The music should not be plainly audible beyond the person’s immediate vicinity from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., Hart said.

Also coming under regulation are loudspeakers, amplifiers, public address systems and other venues for advertising, which are limited only to the hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Loading, unloading and loud exhaust is prohibited from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The ordinance also makes provision for “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing” on public streets between 10 p.m. and 7 p.m., or at any other time it annoys the quiet, comfort and repose of those nearby.

Application for a permit for relief from the ordinance may be made to the Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer or Town Manager, according to the ordinance.

Penalties are detailed in RSA 676:17 and consist of $100, first offense; $200, second offense; and $500, third or subsequent offense during a five-month period.

Councilor Jim Butler asked about construction noise and Hart said, “The general rule is, nothing before 7 a.m. It exempts municipal maintenance workers, if they’ve given abutters notice, and anything involving public safety or public works when they’re delivering services.”

Councilor Tom Dolan said, “The last couple of years, we have had many noise complaints involving fireworks.”

Hart said fireworks were a separate ordinance, but that they followed the same time frame, no excessive noise from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. “As we go forward, we will look at the other ordinances and make sure they coordinate with this one,” he said.

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