Township of East Hempfield, PA
Lancaster County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of East Hempfield as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 270.
[Adopted 12-6-2000 by Ord. No. 00-04]

§ 170-1 Findings; purpose.

Uncontrolled or excessive noise from animals is detrimental to the physical, mental and social well-being of the residents of East Hempfield Township. Uncontrolled, and particularly incessant, barking of dogs or the making of noises from other animals can result in stress to people who are within audible range of the noise. Such stress can and does adversely affect the health of such individuals and interferes with the peaceable enjoyment of the property on which they reside. The purpose of this article, adopted under Sections 1506, 1529 and 1530 of the Second Class Township Code, is to promote the public health, safety and welfare by making it unlawful to permit an animal to create such an offensive situation by barking or otherwise creating detrimental noise.

§ 170-2 Noise disturbance.

It shall be illegal within the Township for any person to own, possess or control any animal which makes any noise continuously or repeatedly for a period of at least 15 minutes during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily or continuously or repeatedly for a period of at least five minutes during the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. daily, regardless of whether the animal is physically situated in or upon private property. Such noise shall be considered a nuisance and shall be illegal, provided that none of the exceptions which follow apply.

§ 170-3 Exceptions.

The following shall not be considered illegal under this article:
A. 
Noise made by farm animals located on farms which constitute agricultural operations protected from nuisance suits by the Right to Farm Law[1] or any similar legislation now in force or hereinafter enacted to protect farm operations from legal actions which have the effect of restricting lawful agricultural operations.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 3 P.S. § 951 et seq.
B. 
Barking or other noises made by dogs or other animals in response to a person who is trespassing upon private property in or upon which the animal is lawfully situated or if the noise is made in response to an unlawful physical assault upon the dog or other animal or upon a person lawfully on the property on which the dog or other animal is situated. By way of illustration, but not limitation, this exception does not apply to noises made in response to a person walking, running or being present on a sidewalk intended for the public or within the public right-of-way of any road regardless of whether the animal may perceive the presence of such person as being intrusive or alarming.
C. 
Barking or other noises made by dogs or other animals located in a kennel, veterinarian's office or other similar lawful place of business, provided that the operator of the facility has adopted and implemented reasonable policies to avoid adverse impacts to the occupants of neighboring properties, such as, by way of illustration but not limitation, installing or constructing buffers between the location of the animals and affected neighboring properties, the placement of loud animals indoors or the refusal to accept, on other than an emergency basis, animals which have previously created noise problems for the operator.

§ 170-4 Violations and penalties. [1]

Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this article, upon conviction thereof in an action brought before a Magisterial District Judge in the manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days. Each day that a violation of this article continues or each section of this article which shall be found to have been violated shall constitute a separate offense.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).

§ 170-5 Enforcement.

The provisions of this article shall be enforced by any Township official appointed from time to time by resolution by the Board of Supervisors or by any police officer having authority within East Hempfield Township.
[Adopted 7-18-2007 by Ord. No. 2007-02]

§ 170-6 Purpose.

Excessive levels of sound are detrimental to the physical, mental and social well-being of residents as well as to their comfort, living conditions, general welfare and safety and are therefore a public health and welfare hazard. The purpose of this article is to prevent excessive levels of sound that may be a public health and welfare hazard.

§ 170-7 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AMBIENT NOISE
The all-encompassing noise associated with a given environment, being usually a composite of sounds from many sources both near and far.
CONSTRUCTION OPERATION
The erection, repair, renovation, demolition or removal of any building or structure and the excavation, filling, grading and regulation of lots in connection therewith.
EMERGENCY
Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating the physical trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.
IMPULSIVE SOUND
A sound of short duration, usually less than one second, with an abrupt onset and rapid decay. Examples of impulsive sound include, but are not limited to, explosions, drop force impacts and the discharge of firearms.
MOTOR VEHICLE
A vehicle which is self-propelled, except one which is propelled solely by human power or by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails.
MUFFLER or SOUND-DISSIPATIVE DEVICE
A device designed or used for decreasing or abating the level of sound escaping from an engine or machinery system.
NOISE
Any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
NOISE DISTURBANCE
Any sound which:
A. 
Endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals;
B. 
Annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or
C. 
Endangers or injures personal or real property.
PERSON
Any individual, association, partnership or corporation, and includes any officer, employee, department, agency or instrumentality of a state or any political subdivision of a state. Whenever used in any clause prescribing and imposing a penalty, "person" includes the individual members, partners, officers and managers, or any of them, of partnerships and associations and, as for corporations, the officers and managers thereof, or any of them.
PROPERTY BOUNDARY
An imaginary line drawn through the points of contact of adjoining lands, apartments, condominiums, townhouses and duplexes owned, rented or leased by different persons; a demarcation or a line of separation of real properties; and also, for any two or more buildings sharing common grounds, the line drawn midway between any two such buildings. All areas devoted to public rights-of-way shall be deemed to be across the property boundary. For the purpose of this definition, the property line includes all points on a plane formed by projecting the property boundary in a manner deemed appropriate by the enforcing police officer.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
Any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, sidewalk, alley or similar place which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
PUBLIC SPACE
Any real property or structures thereon which are owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
REAL PROPERTY
All land, whether publicly or privately owned, whether improved or not improved, with or without structures, exclusive of any areas devoted to public rights-of-way.
SOUND
An oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity or other physical parameter, in a medium with internal forces that cause compression and rarefaction of that medium, or the superposition of such propagated oscillation which evokes an auditory sensation. The description of sound may include any characteristics of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.
VEHICLE
Every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon rails or tracks.
ZONING DISTRICTS
The land use districts established by the East Hempfield Township Zoning Ordinance of 1994, as amended.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 255, Zoning.

§ 170-8 Prohibited acts; violations.

A. 
Noise disturbance prohibited. No person shall unreasonably make, cause to be made, or cause to be continued any noise disturbance except noncommercial public speaking or public assembly activities conducted on any public space or public right-of-way.
B. 
Specific prohibitions. The following acts and the causing thereof are declared to be noise disturbances and therefore in violation of this article.
(1) 
Radios, televisions, musical instruments, sound amplifiers and similar devices. Operating, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, audio equipment, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, automobile radio, automobile stereo, high-fidelity equipment or similar device which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound:
(a) 
At any time in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a property boundary or between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. so as to be plainly audible across a property boundary;
(b) 
In such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a property boundary, or at 50 feet from such device, whichever is less, when the device is operated in or on a motor vehicle or hand carried on a public right-of-way or public space; or
(c) 
In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance to any person other than the operator of the device when operated by a passenger or a common carrier.
(2) 
Yelling and shouting, etc. Engaging in loud or raucous yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing:
(a) 
On a public right-of-way or public space between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.; or
(b) 
At any time or place in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(3) 
Construction. Operating or permitting the operation of any tools or equipment used in construction operations, drilling or demolition work between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays or at any time on Sundays or legal holidays, such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary, except for emergency work or scheduled road work which is scheduled so as to minimize interference with normal traffic patterns.
(4) 
Domestic power tools. Operating or permitting the operation of any mechanically powered saw, drill, sander, grinder, lawn or garden tool, leafblower or similar device used outdoors between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. so as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit, restrict, penalize, enjoin or in any manner regulate farming operations that are in all respects conducted in accordance with or pursuant to applicable local, state and federal laws or regulations.
(5) 
Loading and unloading. Loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, garbage cans or similar objects between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary. This section shall not apply to municipal or utility services in or about the public right-of-way, nor shall it apply to any property located in the commercial or industrial zoning districts.
(6) 
Powered model vehicles. Operating or permitting the operation of powered model vehicles so as to create a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
(7) 
Street sales. Offering for sale or selling by shouting or outcry or by any other amplified sound within any residential or commercial zoning district between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
(8) 
Tampering. The following acts or the causing thereof are prohibited:
(a) 
The removal or rendering inoperative by any person other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement of any muffler or sound-dissipative device or element of design or noise label of any product;
(b) 
The intentional moving or rendering inaccurate or inoperative of any sound monitoring system or device position by or for the Township Police Department, provided that such device or the immediate area is clearly labeled in accordance with noise control regulations to warn of the potential illegality; and
(c) 
The use of a product which has had a muffler or sound-dissipative device or element of design altered or noise label removed or rendered inoperative, with knowledge that such action has occurred.
(9) 
Vehicle, motorboat or aircraft repairs and testing. Repairing, rebuilding or testing any motor vehicle, motorcycle, motorboat or aircraft in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary.
(10) 
The audible sounding of any burglar alarm in excess of 15 minutes in a residential zoning district or 30 minutes in any commercial or industrial zoning district.
C. 
Motor vehicle prohibitions.
(1) 
Standing motor vehicles. No person shall operate or permit the operation of any motor vehicle or any auxiliary equipment attached to such a vehicle for a period longer than 15 minutes in an hour while the vehicle is stationary for reasons other than traffic congestion anywhere within 150 feet of any residence in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary.
(2) 
Unnecessary horn blowing. No person shall at any time sound the horn or other warning device of a vehicle except when absolutely necessary as a warning while actually driving such vehicle.
(3) 
Tire squealing. No person shall cause or allow the tires of a motor vehicle which the person is operating to squeal except when necessary in order to avoid a collision with another person, vehicle or other property.
(4) 
Engine brake retarders. No gasoline-powered or diesel-powered motor vehicle shall be operated on any public right-of-way using, as part of the operation, an engine brake retarder without exhaust mufflers or with defective or modified exhaust mufflers, in such a manner so as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary. Nothing in this subsection shall apply to emergency driving situations requiring the use of an engine brake retarder to protect the safety or property of a resident or other motor vehicle operator or pedestrians or the operator and passengers of the motor vehicle involved in the emergency situation. Signs shall be posted in appropriate places, advising motor vehicle operators of the prohibition of the use of engine brake retarders consistent with this subsection.
D. 
Prima facie violation. The noise from any of the aforesaid prohibited acts or motor vehicle prohibitions that occurs in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance to two or more residents who are in general agreement as to the times and durations of the noise and who reside in separate residences, including apartments and condominiums, located across a property boundary from the property on which the source of the noise is generated shall be prima facie evidence of a noise disturbance.

§ 170-9 Exceptions.

The following shall not be considered illegal under this article:
A. 
Amplified announcements. Electronically amplified announcements at athletic events.
B. 
Blasting. After notification to the Township, blasting may occur only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless specifically authorized by the Township Manager.
C. 
Concerts, etc. Band concerts, block parties, church carnivals or other performances or similar activities publicly or privately sponsored and presented in any public or private space outdoors, provided that such activities do not occur between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
D. 
Emergency work. Sounds caused by the performance of emergency work or by the ordinary and accepted use of emergency apparatus and equipment.
E. 
Municipal and utility services. Sounds resulting from the repair or replacement of any municipal or utility installation in or about the public right-of-way.
F. 
School and public activities. Sounds not electronically amplified, created by organized school-related programs, activities, athletic and entertainment events or other public programs, activities or events, other than motor vehicle racing events and fireworks or fireworks displays.
(1) 
Any person responsible for any motor vehicle racing event shall obtain a variance pursuant to § 170-10.
(2) 
Any person responsible for any activity or event involving fireworks or fireworks displays shall obtain a variance pursuant to § 170-10.
G. 
Snowblowers. The operation of a snowblower is permitted at any time within the twenty-four-hour period immediately after a snowstorm. Thereafter, the operation of a snowblower is not permitted in any residential zoning district between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., so as not to cause a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary.
H. 
Certain construction-related activities. The operation of tools or equipment and the loading and unloading of certain equipment and materials related to construction activities, which would otherwise be prohibited under § 170-8, due to the time during which the activity occurs, shall not be considered illegal where the owner or operator demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Township Manager or other designated individual, that the timing of the activity is reasonably required, due to temporary or seasonal weather or atmospheric conditions or where, due to traffic or other similar conditions, conducting the activity during an otherwise prohibited period is reasonably necessary in order to successfully complete the work or in order to create less hardship or adverse impact on neighboring properties than would conducting the activity during the otherwise permitted period.
[Added 9-3-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-10]

§ 170-10 Variances.

A. 
Authority. The Board of Supervisors shall have the authority, consistent with this section, to grant variances upon application of any person who owns, controls or operates any sound source which does not comply with the provisions or standards of this article.
B. 
Application. Any person seeking a variance shall file with the Township Manager an application at least 30 days prior to the event for which the application is being filed. The application shall state the standard, provision or section from which the variance is sought. The application shall contain information that demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the variance is sought into compliance with this article would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, the community or other persons, and it shall require any other supporting information which may reasonably be required. All applications shall be accompanied by an application fee in an amount as determined by resolution of the Board of Supervisors from time to time.
[Amended 9-3-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-10]
C. 
Public notification. Notice of an application for a variance shall be published on the Township's website at least one week prior to any hearing of the Board of Supervisors concerning the application for a variance, and no variance may be issued without such notice prior to issuance. Any individual who claims to be adversely affected by allowance of the variance may file a statement with the Township Manager containing any information to support his or her claim.
D. 
Hearing. Upon the filing of an application for variance with the Township Manager, an administrative hearing shall be held before the Board of Supervisors to consider evidence relative to the review standards set forth in § 170-10E. The Board of Supervisors shall have full authority to carry out its duties as set forth in this article. All hearings before the Board of Supervisors shall be held not more than 30 days from the date of an application for variance is filed with the Township Manager and the decision thereon rendered within 30 days of the last hearing in the case before the Board of Supervisors.
E. 
Review standards. In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Board of Supervisors shall balance the hardship to the applicant versus the adverse impact to the public health, safety and welfare and shall consider at a minimum the following conditions:
(1) 
The physical characteristics of the emitted sound;
(2) 
The times and duration of the emitted sound;
(3) 
The geography, zone and population density of the affected area;
(4) 
Whether the public health and safety is endangered;
(5) 
Whether the sound source predates the receivers; and
(6) 
Whether compliance with the standards from which the variance is sought would produce hardship without equal or greater benefit to the public.
F. 
Decision. The Board of Supervisors shall issue a written decision in granting or denying the application for a variance and, if denied, shall state the reasons therefor. The Board of Supervisors' decision shall be made available to the applicant and any other person who requests it in writing. In granting a variance the Board of Supervisors may attach reasonable conditions, including but not limited to placing a time limit on the permitted activity and/or establishing a time schedule within which the source of sound or activity for which the variance was sought must be brought into compliance with this article. Where the grant of a variance is conditioned, the variance shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicant. Noncompliance with any condition of the variance shall terminate it and subject the person holding it to those provisions of this article regulating the source of sound or activity for which the variance was granted. Variances may be granted for a period of up to one year. The person obtaining the variance may reapply for additional variance periods under terms set forth by the Board of Supervisors.
G. 
Appeals. Appeals from an adverse decision of the Board of Supervisors shall be made to the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County.

§ 170-11 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Any person, firm or corporation who or which shall violate any provision of this article shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $150 and not more than $1,000 for each offense and, in default of payment, to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Each day during which a violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
B. 
This section and the foregoing penalties shall not be construed to limit or deny the right of the Township or any person to such equitable or other remedies as may otherwise be available with or without process of law.

§ 170-12 Enforcement.

The provisions of this article shall be enforced by any Township official appointed from time to time by resolution by the Board of Supervisors or by any police officer having authority within East Hempfield Township.

§ 170-13 Repealer.

All ordinances or parts of ordinances conflicting with the provisions of this article are hereby repealed. It is hereby declared that the provisions of Ordinance No. 00-04, "An Ordinance of the Township of East Hempfield, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Regulating the Control of Barking Dogs and Excessive Noise of Other Animals," are not in conflict with this article and shall remain in full force and effect.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Art. I, Barking of Dogs, of this chapter.