Changes Coming to Moline Noise Ordinance - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Changes Coming to Moline Noise Ordinance

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Moline City Council members are taking steps toward changing the city's noise ordinance, which dates back to the 1950s.

After consulting with a sound engineer, the Planning Commission found an overhaul of the ordinance was needed to bring it into the 21st century.

During Tuesday night's Committee of the Whole meeting, city council members unanimously voted to give planning staff the green light to begin drafting new noise rules.

"It's quality of life, and what people think is a reasonable amount of noise to be able to live their daily lives," said Moline's Land Development Manager, Shawn Christ.

And, bringing the rules up to date isn't so much a question of changes in people's standards - It's an issue of changes in technology, which have made the city's current noise ordinances completely unenforceable.

"There's no teeth. Our hands are tied," Christ said.

The problem is that the rules on the books now are based on the noise meters that were used in the 1950s when they were written, using the octave bands that equipment could measure.

That equipment - and those frequency bands - are now obsolete.

Today's equipment is much more precise, and measures on a completely different scale.

"There's no physical way to measure at these frequencies using modern equipment," Christ said. "If you have to enforce standards, it is a problem."

Fortunately for the city, the few noise complaints that do come in have, so far, all been ones they've been able to resolve by working with the property owners to fix the problems, with no enforcement tools needed.

"But, since we know there is an issue, we know these are outdated, we want to be prepared in case we are put in that position," Christ said.

And that's why the planning commission is proposing that city council adopt new rules that would mirror the state's standards, which were all updated about ten years ago.

"It would create a series of maximum sound pressure levels and it would vary by the type of zoning district that it's located in, so a residential district, for instance, would have a lower threshold than what you could have in a commercial district," Christ explained.

At this point, no decisions have been made on the exact thresholds the new rules will contain.

But, planners say the new rules will definitely include a number of exemptions, for everything from backup generators in residential areas to church bells, train whistles, emergency vehicles, road construction and more.

The new ordinance will now be drawn up for city council to consider in the coming weeks.

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