City of Marlborough, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Marlborough 10-6-1986 by Ord. No. 86-932D[1] (Ch. 134 of the 1986 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Advertising — See Ch. 222, Art. II.
Alarm systems — See Ch. 235.
Peddling and soliciting — See Ch. 468.
Zoning — See Ch. 650.
431a Tables 1.0 and 2.0
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance supersedes former Ch. 134, Noise, adopted as Sec. 10-15 of the 1965 Code.

§ 431-1 Declaration of findings and policy; scope.

A. 
Declaration of findings and policy. Whereas excessive sound is a serious hazard to the public health and welfare and safety and the quality of life; and whereas a substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive sound may be substantially abated; and whereas the people have a right to and should be ensured an environment free from excessive sound that may jeopardize their health or welfare or safety or degrade the quality of life; now, therefore, it is the policy of the City of Marlborough to prevent excessive sound which may jeopardize the health and welfare or safety of its citizens or degrade the quality of life.
B. 
Scope.
(1) 
This chapter shall apply to the control of all sound originating within the limits of the City of Marlborough, except as follows.
(2) 
Provisions in this chapter shall not apply to:
(a) 
The emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency or the emission of sound in the performance of emergency work or in training exercises related to emergency activities.
(b) 
Noncommercial public speaking and public assembly activities as guaranteed by state and federal constitutions.
(c) 
Devices used in conjunction with places of religious worship.
(d) 
All snow clearance activities.

§ 431-2 Duties and responsibilities of departments and agencies.

A. 
Enforcement responsibilities. The Police Department shall be charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter. The Board of Health, in compliance with MGL c. 21A, § 8, shall assist in the enforcement of this chapter.
B. 
Departmental actions. All City departments and agencies shall, to the fullest extent consistent with other laws, carry out their programs in such a manner as to further the policy of this chapter.
C. 
Departmental compliance with other laws. All City departments and agencies shall comply with federal and state laws and regulations and the provisions and intent of this chapter respecting the control and abatement of noise to the same extent that any person is subject to such laws and regulations.

§ 431-3 Prohibited acts.

A. 
General prohibition of noise emissions. No person or persons owning, leasing or controlling the operation of any source or sources of noise shall willfully, negligently or through failure to provide the necessary equipment or facilities or to take necessary precautions permit the establishment of a condition of noise pollution.
B. 
Specific prohibitions. All electric motors and internal-combustion engines employed in outdoor construction, demolition or earthmoving shall be prohibited from use every evening from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. the following morning, except Sunday, when all such devices shall be prohibited from operating at any hour except by a variance issued by the Board of Health in accordance with the provisions of § 431-5, unless declared as emergency work pursuant to § 431-1B(2)(a).

§ 431-4 Restrictions.

A. 
This chapter shall apply to the use or occupancy of any lot or structure thereon and to the noise produced thereby but shall not apply to the intermittent or occasional use, during the daytime, of homeowners' light residential outdoor equipment or commercial service equipment.
B. 
No person shall create or cause to be emitted from or by any source subject to this chapter any noise which causes or results in a maximum noise level, measured at any lot line of any lot located in a Marlborough zoning district, in excess of the levels defined by Tables 1.0 and 2.0.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Tables 1.0 and 2.0 are included at the end of this chapter.
C. 
Correction for character of sound. For any source of noise which emits a pure tone, the maximum sound-pressure level limits and single-number dBA equivalents set forth in Table 2.0 shall be reduced by 5 dB.
D. 
All noise-level measurements made pursuant to this chapter shall be made with a Type I or II A-weighted sound-level meter as specified under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.

§ 431-5 Variances.

A. 
The Board of Health shall have the authority, consistent with this chapter, to grant special variances which may be requested pursuant to § 431-3B herein.
B. 
Any person seeking a special variance pursuant to this section shall file an application with the Board of Health.
(1) 
The application shall contain information which demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the special variance is sought into compliance with this chapter would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, on the community or on other persons.
(2) 
The Board of Health shall establish appropriate procedures for processing applications for such variances, including such hearing as the Board of Health deems appropriate.
C. 
In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Board of Health shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community and other persons of not granting the special variance against the adverse impact on health, safety and welfare of persons affected, the adverse impact on property affected and any other adverse impacts of granting the special variance. Applicants for special variances and persons contesting special variances may be required to submit any information the Board of Health may reasonably require. In granting or denying an application, the Board of Health shall place in the office of the City Clerk a copy of the decision and the reasons for denying or granting the special variance.
D. 
Special variances shall be granted by notice to the applicant containing all necessary conditions, including a time limit on the permitted activity. The special variance shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicant. Noncompliance with any condition of the special variance shall terminate it and subject the person holding it to those provisions of this chapter regulating the source of sound or activity for which the special variance was granted.
E. 
Application for extension of time limits specified in special variances or for modification of other substantial conditions shall be treated like applications for initial special variances under Subsection B.

§ 431-6 Variances in time required to comply.

A. 
The owner of any commercial or industrial source of sound may apply to the Board of Health for a variance in time to comply with § 431-4. The Board of Health shall have the authority, consistent with this chapter, to grant a variance. No such variance shall be granted which has the effect of exempting an activity from compliance with this chapter.
B. 
Any person seeking a variance in time to comply shall file an application with the Board of Health.
(1) 
The application shall contain information which demonstrates that bringing the source of sound or activity for which the variance is sought into compliance with this chapter prior to the date requested in the application would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, on the community or on other persons.
(2) 
The Board of Health shall establish appropriate procedures for applications for such variances, including such hearings as the Board of Health deems appropriate.
C. 
In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Board of Health shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community and other persons of not granting the variance in time to comply against the adverse impact on health, safety and welfare of persons affected, the adverse impact on property affected and any other adverse impacts of granting the variance. In granting or denying an application, the Board of Health shall place in the office of the City Clerk a copy of the decision and the reasons for denying or granting the variance in time to comply.
D. 
Variances in time to comply shall be granted to the applicant containing all necessary conditions, including a schedule for achieving compliance. The variance in time to comply shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicant. Noncompliance with any condition of the variance shall terminate the variance and subject the person holding it to those provisions of this chapter for which the variance was granted.
E. 
Applications for an extension of time limits specified in variances in time to comply or for modification of other substantial conditions shall be treated like applications for initial variances under Subsection B, except that the Board of Health must find that the need for the extension or modification clearly outweighs any adverse impacts of granting the extension or modifications.

§ 431-7 Judicial review.

Any person aggrieved by the grant or denial of a variance pursuant to § 431-5 or 431-6 may seek relief therefrom by a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction as provided by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

§ 431-8 Violations and penalties.

Any person who violates any provision of this chapter, if convicted, shall be fined no less than $50 nor more than $100 for the first offense and not less than $200 nor more than $300 for each succeeding offense. Each day or part thereof of violation of any provision of this chapter, whether such violation is continuous or intermittent, shall be construed as a separate and succeeding offense.

§ 431-9 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
BACKGROUND NOISE
Noise from all sources other than a particular sound that is of interest, e.g., other than the sound being measured.
COMMERCIAL SERVICE EQUIPMENT
All engine- or motor-powered equipment intended for infrequent service work in inhabited areas, typically requiring commercial or skilled operators. Examples of commercial service equipment are chain saws, log chippers, paving rollers, etc.
CONSTRUCTION and DEMOLITION
Any site preparation, assembly, erection, substantial repair, alteration, destruction or similar action for public or private rights-of-way, structures, utilities or similar property.
DAYTIME
The period between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. daily.
dB
The abbreviation for decibel.
dBA
The A-weighted sound level in decibels, as measured by a general-purpose sound-level meter complying with the provisions of the American National Standards Institute Specifications for Sound Level Meters (ANSI S1.4 1971), properly calibrated and operated on the A-weighting network.
EMERGENCY
Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage which demands immediate action.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating the physical trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
The value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of a single motor vehicle. In cases where trailers and tractors are separable, the gross combination weight rating (GCWR), which is the value specified by the manufacturer as the recommended maximum loaded weight of the combination vehicle, shall be used.
HOMEOWNER'S LIGHT RESIDENTIAL OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT
All engine- or motor-powered garden or maintenance tools intended for repetitive use in residential areas, typically capable of being used by a homeowner. Examples of homeowner's light residential outdoor equipment are lawn mowers, garden tools, power tools, riding tractors, snowblowers, snowplows, etc.
Hz
The abbreviation for Hertz, and is equivalent to cycles per second.
LOT
A single tract of land in identical ownership throughout, with definite boundaries ascertainable through a recorded plan or deed.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle which is propelled or drawn on land by a motor, such as but not limited to passenger cars, trucks, buses, truck-trailers, semitrailers, campers, go-carts, snowmobiles, dune buggies or racing vehicles, including motorcycles.
NOISE POLLUTION
The presence of that amount of acoustic energy for that amount of time necessary to:
A. 
Be injurious or tend to be, on the basis of current information, injurious to the public health or welfare;
B. 
Interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property or the conduct of business; or
C. 
Exceed standards or restrictions established herein.
PERSON
An individual, partnership, association, firm, syndicate, company, trust, corporation, department, bureau or agency or any other entity recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties.
PURE TONE
Any sound which can be distinctly heard as a single pitch or a set of single pitches. For the purposes of this chapter, a "pure tone" shall exist if an octave-band analysis indicates one octave band 3 dB or more over both the band above and below.
SOUND-PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL)
Twenty times the logarithm (to the base 10) of the ratio of the sound pressure to the reference sound pressure. [The reference sound pressure shall be equal to 20 micropascals.] Unless otherwise stated, the level is understood to be that of a root-mean-square pressure.
ZONING DISTRICTS
The zoning districts and land uses therein as established by the Zoning Code of the City of Marlborough.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 650, Zoning.

§ 431-10 Special sound-producing devices restricted.

A. 
Devices covered. It shall be unlawful for any person owning or having the care, custody or possession of any musical instrument, radio set, phonograph, Victrola, television or other machine or device for producing or reproducing sound to operate or use, or permit to be operated or used, such machine or device in such manner as to disturb the peace and comfort of the neighboring inhabitants or at any time with louder volume than is necessary for convenient hearing for the person who is in the room or chamber or vehicle in which such machine or device is operated and who is voluntarily listening thereto.
B. 
Restrictions on operations. The operation of any such machine or device at any time of the day or night in such manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet from the building, structure or vehicle in which said machine or device is located or, in the case of a portable sound-producing device, being carried or transported and operated in a public way so as to be heard more than 25 feet from the machine or device, such described operation shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this chapter, whether or not such operation conforms to the noise standard(s) elsewhere provided and set forth in this chapter.
C. 
Exceptions. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit playing by a band or orchestra or use of a public-address system or a sound-production machine in a hall or building or at an open-air event duly authorized and/or licensed for the purposes of public assembly.

§ 431-11 Specific prohibitions for vehicles.

A. 
The following acts are specifically prohibited by this chapter, and the causing or allowing of the occurrence of said acts is hereby declared to be in violation of this chapter:
(1) 
No person, when not in traffic, shall operate the engine providing motive power or an auxiliary engine of a motor vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more for a consecutive period longer than five minutes while such vehicle is standing and located within 300 feet of a building or structure used, in whole or in part, for residential purposes in any zone of the City, except where such vehicle is standing within a completely enclosed structure. This section shall not apply to delivery or pickup vehicles that require the operation of the engine to unload or load their vending loads nor to the operation of vehicles carrying products which must be kept refrigerated.
(2) 
No person shall operate within the speed limits specified in this section either a motor vehicle or a combination of vehicles of a type subject to registration at any time or under any condition of grade, load, acceleration or deceleration in such manner as to exceed the noise limit listed in this section for the category of motor vehicle, based on the legal speed limit, posted or not, of the road or way on which operated; such noise to be measured at a distance of no more than 50 feet from the center line of travel under test procedures established in this section. In the event that the distance of the measuring instrument from the center line of travel is less than 50 feet, such listed noise limits shall be corrected to reflect the equivalent noise limits for the actual distance.
(a) 
Following are the maximum noise levels that are permitted for the specified noise sources:
Stationary Run-Up
Maximum Noise Level Permitted
[dB(A)]
Vehicle Class
35 mph
Speed Limit
or Less
35 to 45
mph
Speed Limit
All vehicles over 10,000 pounds' GVWR
86
90
All motorcycles
82
82
Automobiles and light trucks
75
75
(b) 
Measurements shall be made at a distance of 50 feet from the closest point of pass by of a source or 50 feet from a stationary vehicle.
(c) 
This section applies to the total noise from a vehicle or combination of vehicles and shall not be construed as limiting or precluding the enforcement of any other provisions of this Code relating to motor vehicle muffler or noise control.
(d) 
The measurement of sound or noise shall be made with a sound-level meter meeting the standards prescribed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or its successor body. The instrument shall be maintained in calibration and good working order. A calibration check shall be made of the system at the time of any noise measurement.
(e) 
Measurements recorded shall be taken so as to provide proper representation of the noise source. The microphone during measurement shall be positioned so as not to create any unnatural enhancement or diminution of the measured noise. A windscreen for the microphone shall be used when required. Traffic, aircraft and other transportation noise sources and other background noises shall not be considered in taking measurements, except where such background noise interferes with the primary noise being measured.
(f) 
Every motor vehicle shall, at all times, be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent noise which exceeds the dB(A) levels indicated in this section.
(3) 
No person shall operate a motorized recreational vehicle, including but not limited to motorboats, dirt bikes, dune buggies, go-carts, mopeds, motorbikes or snowmobiles, or permit the operation of one or more of such recreational vehicles, individually or in a group or in an organized racing event, on public or private property in such a manner as to create a condition of noise pollution across a residential real property boundary.
B. 
For the purposes of this chapter and the enforcement thereof, noise pollution shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of § 431-4, identifying noise standards applicable to a particular use and zoning district.