Kent County, DE
 
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Levy Court of Kent County 11-23-1993 by Ord. No. 93-11. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 161-1 Definitions.

All terminology used in this section, not defined herein, shall be in conformance with applicable publications of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) or its successor body.
AMBIENT NOISE LEVEL
The all-encompassing background noise associated with a given environment without the sound contribution of the specific source in question.
DECIBEL
A standard unit for measuring the sound pressure level. It is equal to 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of the sound measured to a reference pressure which is 20 micropascals denoted as "dB."
EMERGENCY
Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage which demands immediate actions.
EMERGENCY VEHICLE
A motor vehicle used in response to public calamity or to protect persons or property from imminent danger.
MOTOR VEHICLE
As defined in the Motor Vehicle Code of the State of Delaware, or any vehicles which are propelled or drawn by mechanical equipment, such as, but not limited to, passenger cars, trucks, truck-trailers, semitrailers, campers, motorcycles, minibikes, go-carts, snowmobiles, mopeds, amphibious craft on land, dune buggies or racing vehicles.
NOISE
Any sound which is unwanted or which causes or tends to cause any adverse physiological or psychological effect on human beings.
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 sensibilities;
C. 
Jeopardizes the value of property and erodes the integrity of the environment; or
D. 
Is in excess of the allowable noise levels established in § 161-5.
NOISE, PLAINLY AUDIBLE
Any noise for which the information content of that noise is unambiguously communicated to the listener, such as, but not limited to, understandable spoken speech or comprehensible musical rhythms.
POWERED MODEL VEHICLES
Any powered vehicles, either airborne, waterborne or landborne, which are designed not to carry persons or property, such as but not limited to model airplanes, boats, cars and rockets, which can be propelled by mechanical means.
PROPERTY BOUNDARY
An imaginary line which separates the real property owned or possessed by one person, corporation, business or governmental entity from that owned or possessed by another person, corporation, business or governmental entity.
PURE TONE
Any sound which can be distinctly heard as a single pitch or set of single pitches. For the purpose of this section, a pure tone shall exist if the 1/3 octave band sound pressure level and the band with the tone exceeds the arithmetic average of the sound pressure level of the two contiguous 1/3 octave bands by 15 dB for bands and center frequencies less than 160 Hz, eight dB for bands with center frequencies of 160 Hz to 400 Hz and by five dB for bands with center frequencies greater than 400 Hz.
SOUND
A temporal and spatial oscillation in pressure, or other physical quantity, in a medium with internal forces that causes compression and rarefaction of that medium, and which propagates at finite speed to distant points.
WEEKDAY
Any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday which is not legally designated a holiday.

§ 161-2 Noise disturbances prohibited.

[Amended 11-30-1999 by Ord. No. 99-23]
A. 
General prohibition. It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation or business entity to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any noise disturbance within the unincorporated areas of Kent County.
B. 
Specific prohibitions. It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation or business entity to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any of the following noise disturbances within the unincorporated areas of Kent County.
(1) 
Motor vehicles, horns and motor vehicle signaling devices:
(a) 
It shall be unlawful for any person within any residential district to repair, rebuild, test, race or gun any motor vehicle between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. of the following day in such a manner that would create a noise disturbance.
(b) 
All vehicles operating within the boundaries of Kent County must comply with the applicable State of Delaware Regulations pursuant to Title VII of the Delaware Code.
(c) 
Aircraft and railroad noise limits. All aircraft and railroads operating within Kent County shall comply with all applicable federal and state noise regulations.
(2) 
Radios, television sets, phonographs and similar devices:
(a) 
Operating or permitting the use or operation of any radio receiving set, musical instrument(s), television, phonographs, drum, speaker or other device for the production or reproduction of sound in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance.
(b) 
Operating any such device, as listed in Subsection B(2)(a) above, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and the following 7:00 a.m., except in the RS1, RS5, RMH, and RM Zoning Districts between the hours of 9:00 p.m and the following 7:00 a.m., in such a manner as to be:
[Amended 7-23-2002 by Ord. No. 02-17]
[1] 
Plainly audible across real property boundaries or through partitions common to two parties within a building; or
[2] 
Plainly audible 50 feet from such device when operated within a motor vehicle on a public or private right-of-way or on a public or private space.
[3] 
In such a manner that the noise is a habitual offense occurring more than one day per week.
(3) 
Animals. Owning, possessing, harboring or controlling any animal or bird which causes a noise disturbance by barking, baying, crying, squawking or by making any other noise continuously or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes or makes such noises intermittently for 1/2 hour or more; provided, however, that at the time the animal or bird is making such noise no person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon the private property in or upon which the animal or bird is situated or that no person other than the owner, controller or possessor of the animal was teasing or provoking the animal or bird at the time it made such noise. Provided, further, that for purposes of this section "animals and birds" shall not include livestock or poultry which are raised or kept as part of a farm operation which is actively devoted to the production for sale of plants and animals useful to people.
(4) 
Loading operations. Loading, unloading, opening or otherwise handling boxes, crates, containers or other similar objects between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day, in such manner as to create a noise disturbance within a residential district, except during an emergency.
(5) 
Construction noise. Operating or causing to be operated any equipment used in commercial construction, repair, alteration or demolition work on buildings, structures, streets, alleys or appurtenances thereto, in the following manner:
(a) 
With sound control devices which have been tampered with.
(b) 
In violation of any regulation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
(c) 
Between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day which creates a noise disturbance.
(6) 
Explosives, firearms and similar devices. The use or firing of explosives, firearms or similar devices as to cause a noise disturbance within a residential district or public right-of-way.
(7) 
Powered model vehicles. Operating or permitting the operation of powered model vehicles between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following morning. Maximum sound pressure levels during the permitted period of operation shall conform to those set forth in § 161-5 below and shall be measured at the property line of the source or at a distance of 100 feet if it is operated in a public place.
(8) 
Refuse compacting vehicles. Operating or permitting to be operated any motor vehicle which can compact refuse and which creates, during the compacting cycle, a sound pressure level in excess of 94 dB(A) when measured at 50 feet from any point of the vehicle, or between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day in residential districts.
(9) 
Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling, etc. Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or generally creating a racket on public streets between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day so as to be plainly audible at the nearest property line or to a bystander or create a noise disturbance.
(10) 
Power equipment. Operating or permitting to be operated any power saw, sander, drill, grinder, garden equipment or tools of a similar nature, outdoors in residential districts between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day, in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(11) 
Stationary emergency signaling devices:
(a) 
Testing of only the electrical mechanical functioning of a stationary emergency signaling device shall occur at the same time each day that a test is performed, but not before 7:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. Any such testing shall only use the minimum cycle test time. In no case shall such test time exceed 10 seconds.
(b) 
Testing of the complete emergency signaling system, including the electromechanical functioning of the signaling device and the personnel response to the signal, shall not occur more than once each calendar month. Such testing shall not occur before 7:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. The ten-second time limit on the electromechanical functioning of the signaling device shall apply to such system testing.
(c) 
Stationary emergency signaling devices shall be used only for testing in compliance with applicable provisions of this section and for emergency purposes where personnel and equipment are mobilized.
(d) 
For the purpose of the enforcement of the provisions of this section, noise levels may be measured with a sound meter that meets or exceeds the requirements of American National Standard Institute specification for sound level meters (ANSI S1.4-1971), approved April 27, 1971, and issued by the American National Standards Institute, for types I, II or S sound level meters. A sound level calibration instrument of the coupler type shall be used to calibrate the sound level meter in decibel units and such instrument shall produce a calibration sound pressure level.
(12) 
Electronic insect or bug killing devices:
(a) 
Operating or permitting the use or operation of any electronic insect or bug killing devices for the elimination, control or extermination of flying insects or bugs in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(b) 
Operating any such device, as listed in Subsection B(12)(a) above, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and the following 7:00 a.m. in such a manner as to be plainly audible across real property boundaries.

§ 161-3 Enforcement and penalties.

[Amended 11-30-1999 by Ord. No. 99-23; 3-2-2004 by Ord. No. 04-03]
A. 
Fine. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be fined according to the following schedule:
(1) 
Thirty dollars for any first offense.
(2) 
One hundred dollars for any second offense.
(3) 
Two hundred fifty dollars for any third offense.
(4) 
Five hundred dollars for any fourth offense.
(5) 
Not less than $1,000 or more than $10,000 for any fifth or subsequent offense.
B. 
Separate offense. Each day that any violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
C. 
Enforcement. This section shall be enforced by any law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the area (site) in which the alleged offense occurred.

§ 161-4 Exceptions and special waivers.

A. 
Exceptions. The following uses of an activity shall be exempt from noise level regulations:
(1) 
Safety signals. Noise of safety signals and warning devices.
(2) 
Authorized emergency vehicles. Noises resulting from any authorized vehicle, when responding to an emergency.
(3) 
Aircraft. Aircraft flying to and from Dover Air Force Base.
[Added 7-23-2002 by Ord. No. 02-17[1]]
[1]:
Editor's Note: This ordinance also redesignated former Subsection A(3) through (9) as Subsection A(4) through (10), respectively.
(4) 
Municipal services. Noises resulting from the provisions of municipal services.
(5) 
Temporary activities. Any noise resulting from activities of a temporary duration permitted by law and/or for which a waiver has been granted by the Division of Inspections and Enforcement.
(6) 
Certain unamplified human voices. The unamplified human voice and unamplified crowd noises resulting from activities such as those planned by day-care centers, schools, governmental and community groups [except as specified above in § 161-3B(9)].
(7) 
Parades. Parades and public gathering for which a waiver has been issued.
(8) 
Religious chimes, bells, etc. Bells, chimes, carillons while being used for religious purposes or in conjunction with religious services, or for national celebrations or public holidays, and those bells, chimes, carillons that are presently installed and in use for any purpose.
(9) 
Shooting. Shooting activities at duly sanctioned shooting organizations: Shooting activity between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. at the outdoor or partially enclosed shooting ranges of organizations which are affiliated with or recognized by the State of Delaware or a national sport shooting organization.
(10) 
Farm machinery and equipment. Noise emanating from the operation of machinery and equipment while engaged in agricultural activity.
B. 
Exemptions for time to comply. Upon good cause shown by the owner or responsible party for any noise source, the Division of Inspections and Enforcement shall have the power to grant an exemption from the requirement of this section in order to allow sufficient time for installation of needed control equipment, facilities or modifications to achieve compliance, not to exceed 10 days, provided that such exemption may be renewed as necessary, but only if satisfactory progress toward compliance is shown. A request for exemption shall be filed in writing with the Division of Inspections and Enforcement on forms provided by the department.
C. 
Special waivers:
(1) 
Authority. The Division of Inspections and Enforcement shall have the authority, consistent with this section, to grant special waivers.
(2) 
Application. Any person seeking a special waiver pursuant to this section shall file a written application with the Division of Inspections and Enforcement. The written application shall contain information which demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the special waiver is sought into compliance with this chapter would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, or the community, or for another purpose.
(3) 
Issuance or denial. Determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Division of Inspections and Enforcement shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community and other persons of not granting the special waiver against the adverse impact on the health, safety and welfare of persons affected, the adverse impact of property affected and any other adverse impacts of granting the special waiver.
(4) 
Special waivers. Special waivers shall be granted by notice to the applicant and may include all necessary conditions, including the time limits on the permitted activity. The special waiver shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicants. Noncompliance with any condition of the special waiver shall terminate it and subject the person holding it to the regulation and punishment provisions of this section.
(5) 
Guidelines. The Division of Inspections and Enforcement may issue guidelines defining the procedures to be followed in applying for special waivers and the criteria to be considered in deciding whether to grant a special waiver.

§ 161-5 Allowable noise levels.

Unless a person has been granted a special waiver, in accordance with the provisions of this section, it shall be unlawful for any person to create a noise disturbance within the unincorporated area of Kent County. Any one or combination of the following shall constitute noise disturbances:
A. 
Exceeds ambient noise level by 10 dBA. A noise which exceeds the ambient noise level by 10 dBA, at the point of complaint origination within the receiving property, except as otherwise regulated herein.
B. 
Exceeds ambient noise level by five dBA in a residential area. A noise which exceeds the ambient noise level by five dBA at the point of complaint origination within the receiving property in areas zoned RS1, RS5, RMH, and RM, except as otherwise regulated herein.
[Added 7-23-2002 by Ord. No. 02-17[1]]
[1]:
Editor's Note: This ordinance also redesignated former Subsections B and C as Subsections C and D, respectively.
C. 
Certain pure tones, repetitive impulsive sounds, etc., exceeding ambient noise level by five dBA. Any stationary source of sound which admits a pure tone, cyclically varying sound or repetitive impulsive sound shall be considered a noise disturbance if the sound exceeds the ambient noise level by five dBA.
D. 
Plainly audible noise. Noise which is described as "plainly audible" in subsections of this section, including, but not limited to, § 161-2B(2), (9) and (12).

§ 161-6 Study on enforcement of provisions.

Levy Court shall restudy this chapter as to its affect on police authorities and their enforcement thereof two years from its adoption date.