Milford has a new noise ordinance

"Disturbing' and 'unreasonably loud' noises will be measured and ticketed

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By Pamela Chergotis

— The sounds of summer are slowly filling the streets of Milford Borough — musicians strumming, tourists honking, umpires calling balls and strikes.

This summer, the borough will have a noise ordinance to keep it all from getting, as the ordinance says, "unreasonably loud and/or disturbing."

The Milford Borough Council passed its new noise ordinance earlier this month. Its stated purpose is to regulate and control "loud and offensive sound and noise" in the borough, "promote the health, safety and general welfare of residents and visitors; and protect the interest of local businesses."

This ordinance replaces an earlier ordinance in place for many years that borough board member Adriane Wendell says was "open to broader interpretation with absolutely no ability to enforce."

One person's "disturbing" might be another's dulcet. So how will the borough decide? First, some definitions:

"Disturbing" noise, according to the ordinance, is "perceived by a person of ordinary firmness and sensibilities as interrupting the normal peace and calm of the area, neighborhood, or vicinity."

"Unreasonably loud" noise is "substantially incompatible with the time and location where created."

The following considerations will come into play in deciding whether noise is too loud or disturbing:

Time of day, with a special consideration for maintaining quiet from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Proximity to residences

Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent, or constant

Volume and intensity

Whether the noise is enhanced in volume or range by any type of electronic or mechanical means

Whether the noise is related to the normal operation of a business or other labor activity

Whether the noise is subject to being controlled without unreasonable effort or expense by the creator of the noise

Meet the meterThere's more than judgment involved. A meter will measure noise to the decibel.

A borough official with a handheld decibel meter will measure noise at the property line in question. If the sound exceeds the levels outlined in the new ordinance (see below), the official will notify the owner, as well as the person who complained about the noise, and suggest a remedy.

If the problem persists, the official will take at least three more measurements within 72 hours, not less than 15 minutes apart.

Violators will have 15 days to fix the problem, with extensions possible. The penalty could reach up to $600, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees incurred by the borough.

If the penalty is not paid, the borough will initiate a civil action to collect the money, with each day a violation exists constituting a separate offense.

Noise complaints may be made to the Milford Police Department or the Zoning Code Enforcement Officer, which will do the investigation.

According to the Temple University Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering, the upper 70s is comparable to a passenger car at 65 mph at 25 feet, a freeway at 50 feet, living room music, radio or TV-audio, and a vacuum cleaner.

Noise limitsResidential, public space, open space or institutional:

8 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday–Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday and legal holidays — 65 decibels

8 p.m.-8 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.–11 a.m. on Sunday and legal holidays — 50 decibels

Commercial or business:

8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday and legal holidays — 70 decibels

8 p.m.-8 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-11 a.m. on Sunday and legal holidays — 60 decibels

Exempted noisesThe following noises are exempted from the ordinance:

Safety signals, warning devices, emergency pressure valves, factory steam whistles and all mechanical and electronic church bells or chimes.

Noises from emergency vehicles in times of emergency

Special events like concerts, band concerts, block parties, church carnivals or other performances as long as they do not occur from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Noise from lawnmowers and other small-engine yard maintenance equipment used between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with the exception of Sundays, which will be between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Musical accompaniment and noise associated with any of community, national, state or county events or public festivals.

Snow removal equipment.

Municipal and utility services

Barking dogsDogs that howl, bark, or yelp habitually, whether continuously for 10 minutes at a time, or intermittently for 30 minutes or more, will constitute a violation of the new code.

Revving vehiclesThe ordinance prohibits the "operating or permitting the operation of any automobile, motorcycle, dirt bike, go-cart, recreational vehicle, remote control vehicle, or other vehicle that engages in jackrabbit starts, spinning tires, racing engines, or other operations, including, without limitation, operating an overloaded or out of repair vehicle which creates unreasonably loud or disturbing noise so as to disturb the comfort and repose of any person of normal sensibilities in the vicinity."

Editor's note: This article has been updated from the original to reflect the fact that the current ordinance replaces an earlier ordinance. The Courier regrets the omission.


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