COLLEGE PARK – To control noise in the community, the College Park City Council discussed the introduction of a draft noise ordinance during its meeting last week.
The language of the draft ordinance, which was discussed at the council’s Aug. 7 work session, designates a noise disturbance as a violation and defines the daytime period as 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
The ordinance defines a noise disturbance as any noise that is “unpleasant, annoying, offensive, loud or obnoxious; unusual for the time of day or location where it is produced or heard; detrimental to the health, comfort, quality of life, or safety of any individual or to the reasonable enjoyment of property or the lawful conduct of business because of the loudness, duration, or character of the noise.”
Much of the council’s discussion centered around the revised definition of daytime hours, which are currently 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Ultimately, the council agreed to adjust the language of the draft ordinance to maintain the current daytime and nighttime definitions.
John Rigg, a District 3 council member, spoke out against extending the daytime hours an extra hour, citing the potential for increased noise in his district.
“Especially for residents of Old Town, on day drinking days, that’s an extra hour of day drinking,” Rigg said.
Some council members also questioned the decision to push the start of the daytime hours back an hour on the weekends, due to the impact it may have on those who work outside and wish to begin their days earlier.
“People make a living off of being able to start their work day, and especially in the summers, starting earlier helps them avoid things like heatstroke and things like that, so effectively we are talking about limiting the hours for those people to perform that work by one hour,” said P.J. Brennan, a District 2 council member.
Brennan also talked about the impact the revised hours would have on residents who work on weekdays and are only able to perform yard work on the weekends.
“In this case residents would not be able to get out earlier on Saturdays and Sundays, so their contractors have the flexibility because a lot of them work during the week, but those of us that work during the week that need to perform the (yard work) on the weekend will be pushed to do it later in the day,” he said.
Dustyn Kujawa, a District 4 council member, questioned if the revision to the daytime and nighttime hour definitions was necessary at all.
“I’ll ask the same question I asked three years ago: how many complaints are we getting about people mowing their lawn on Saturday morning? The answer was two back then, has that changed?” Kujawa asked.
Bob Ryan, the city’s director of public services, said “it’s rare that [the city gets] a lawn complaint” and estimated that the city only receives one or two complaints a year.
“I think that’s why we let this be the last time it came up,” Kujawa said.
The council also discussed removing an exemption for non-emergency construction work that falls outside of the daytime hour time period.
Mayor Patrick Wojahn talked about the ongoing construction projects on Baltimore Avenue and the trade-off of having the project done more quickly by either having the work performed after hours or during the day where it will be more disruptive for traffic.
“Neighborhoods (are) a little touchier than Route 1,” Kujawa said, “when you’re getting woken up at 6 a.m. because the trucks are coming in.”
Wojahn suggested the council could work with the city attorney to better tailor language to address construction noise concerns in specific neighborhoods.
The council is expected to introduce the ordinance in its next regular meeting, Wojahn said.