Borough of Essex Fells, NJ
Essex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Essex Fells 10-21-1986 by Ord. No. 86-514 (Ch. 8.28 of the 1992 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
The ordinance codified in this chapter may be cited as the "Noise Control Ordinance of the Borough of Essex Fells."
A. 
The Mayor and Council of the Borough find that excessive sound is a serious hazard to the health, safety, general welfare and the quality of the life of the citizens of Essex Fells. Since a substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive sound may be substantially abated and the people have a right to and should be ensured an environment free from excessive sound, it is the policy of the Borough to prevent excessive sound that may jeopardize the health and welfare or safety of the citizens or degrade the quality of life.
B. 
This chapter shall apply to the control of sound originating from stationary and mobile sources within the limits of the Borough.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
COMMERCIAL AREA
A group of commercial properties and the abutting public rights-of-way and public spaces.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Any facility or property used for activities involving the furnishing or handling of goods or services, including but not limited to:
A. 
Commercial dining;
B. 
Off-road vehicle operations, such as repair, maintenance and terminaling;
C. 
Retail services;
D. 
Wholesale services;
E. 
Banking and office activities;
F. 
Recreation and entertainment;
G. 
Other commercial activities.
CONSTRUCTION
Any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action, but excluding demolition of buildings or structures.
dBA
Is the abbreviation designating both the unit of measured sound level (the decibel) and the mode of measurement that uses the A-weighting of a sound level meter.
DECIBEL (dB)
The practical unit of measurement for sound pressure level. The number of decibels of a measured sound is equal to 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the sound pressure of the measured sound to the sound pressure of a standard sound (20 micropascals). It is abbreviated dB.
DEMOLITION
Any dismantling, intentional destruction or removal of buildings or structures.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work or action necessary to deliver essential services, including but not limited to repairing water, gas, electricity, telephone, sewer facilities and public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way or abating life-threatening situations.
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.
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY
Any facility or property used for activities involving the production, fabrication, packaging, storage, warehousing, shipping or distribution of goods.
MOTOR CARRIER VEHICLE ENGAGED IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE
Any vehicle for which regulations apply pursuant to Section 18 of the Federal Noise Control Act of 1972 (P.L. 92-574), as amended, pertaining to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce.
MOTORCYCLE
An unenclosed motor vehicle having a saddle for the use of the operator and two or three wheels in contact with the ground, including but not limited to motor scooters, mopeds and minibikes.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle that is propelled or drawn on land by an engine or motor.
MUFFLER
A sound-dissipating device or system for abating the sound of escaping gases of an internal combustion engine.
MULTI-DWELLING-UNIT BUILDING
Any building wherein there are two or more dwelling units.
NOISE
Any sounds of such level and duration as to be or tend to be injurious to human health or welfare or which would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
NOISE CONTROL OFFICER
An officially designated member or members of the Essex Fells Police Department or other officially designated person trained in the measurements of sound and empowered to issue summonses for violations of this chapter.
NOISE DISTURBANCE
Any sound that endangers the safety or health of any person, disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities, or endangers personal or real property.
PERSON
Any individual, corporation, company, association, society, firm, partnership, joint-stock company, the state or any political subdivision, agency or instrumentality of the state.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
Any street, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, sidewalk or alley or similar place that is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
PUBLIC SPACE
Any real property or structures thereon that are owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
REAL PROPERTY LINE
Either the imaginary line, including its vertical extension, that separates one parcel of real property from another or the vertical and horizontal boundaries of a dwelling unit that is one in a multi-dwelling-unit building.
RESIDENTIAL AREA
A group of residential properties and the abutting public rights-of-way and public spaces.
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
Any property used for human habitation.
SOUND LEVEL
The sound pressure level measured in decibels with a sound level meter set for A-weighting; sound level is expressed in dBA.
SOUND LEVEL METER
An instrument for the measurement of sound levels as specified in N.J.A.C. 7:29-2.6, which provisions are incorporated in this chapter by reference.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
WEEKDAY
Any day, Monday through Friday, which is not a legal holiday.
A. 
The noise control program established by this chapter shall be administered by the Police Department.
B. 
The Police Department shall be empowered to stop any motor vehicle or motorcycle operated on public right-of-way or public space reasonably suspected of violating any provisions of this chapter.
C. 
The Noise Control Officer must be qualified according to N.J.A.C. 7:29-2.11.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
D. 
Noise measurements made by Noise Control Officers must be taken according to procedures specified by N.J.A.C. 7:29-2.1 et seq., which provisions are incorporated in this chapter by reference.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
A. 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of any source of sound on a particular category of property or any public space or right-of-way in such a manner as to create a sound level that exceeds the particular sound level limits set forth in Table 185-5[1] when measured at or within the real property line of the receiving property, except as provided in Subsection C of this section. The penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(1) 
First offense: $50.
(2) 
Second offense: $75.
(3) 
Third offense: $100.
(4) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 185-5 is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
When measuring noise within a dwelling unit of a multi-dwelling-unit building, all exterior doors and windows shall be closed and the measurements shall be taken in the center of the room.
C. 
Exemptions. The following are exempt from the sound level limits of Table 185-5:
(1) 
Noise from domestic power tools, lawn mowers and agricultural equipment when operated with a functioning muffler between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends and legal holidays, provided that they produce less than 85 dBA at or within any real property line of a residential property. The penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(a) 
First offense: $50.
(b) 
Second offense: $75.
(c) 
Third offense: $100.
(d) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
(2) 
Sound from church bells and church chimes when a part of a religious observance or service.
(3) 
Noise from construction activity, provided that all motorized equipment used in such activity is equipped with functioning mufflers, except as provided in § 185-7B(6).
(4) 
Noise from snowblowers, snow throwers and snowplows when operated with a muffler for the purpose of snow removal.
(5) 
Noise from stationary emergency signaling devices that conform to the provisions of N.J.A.C. 7:29-1.4, which provisions are incorporated in this chapter by reference.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
(6) 
Noise from an exterior burglar alarm of any building or motor vehicle, provided that such burglar alarm shall terminate its operation within 15 minutes after it has been actuated, in accordance with Chapter 66, Alarm Systems.
A. 
Motor vehicles and motorcycles on public rights-of-way. No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of a public or private motor vehicle or motorcycle on a public right-of-way at any time in such a manner that the sound level emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle exceeds the level set forth in Table 185-6A.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 185-6A is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
Adequate mufflers.
(1) 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of any motor vehicle or motorcycle not equipped with original muffler or equivalent replacement in good working order and in constant operation.
(2) 
No person shall remove or render inoperative, or cause to be removed or rendered inoperative, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement, any muffler on a motor vehicle or motorcycle.
C. 
Motor vehicle horns and signaling devices. The following acts and the causing thereof are declared to be in violation of this chapter:
(1) 
The sounding of any horn or other auditory signaling device in any motor vehicle or motorcycle on any public right-of-way or public space, except as a warning of danger.
(2) 
The sounding of any horn or other auditory signaling device that produces a sound level in excess of 100 dBA at 25 feet (7.5 meters).
D. 
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 three minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion, on a public right-of-way or public space within 150 feet (46 meters) of a residential area between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day. The penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(1) 
First offense: $50.
(2) 
Second offense: $75.
(3) 
Third offense: $100.
(4) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
E. 
Recreational motorized vehicles operating off public rights-of-way. No person shall operate or cause to be operated any recreational motorized vehicle in such a manner that the sound level emitted therefrom exceeds the limits set forth in Table 185-6B[2] at either a distance of 50 feet (15 meters) or more from the path of the vehicle when operated on a public space or at or across a real property line when operated on private property. This section shall apply to all recreational motorized vehicles, whether or not duly licensed or registered.
[2]
Editor's Note: Table 185-6B is included at the end of this chapter.
A. 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit to be made, verbally or mechanically, any noise disturbance. Noncommercial public speaking and public assembly activities conducted on any public space or public right-of-way shall be exempt from the operation of this section.
B. 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the following acts:
(1) 
Sound reproduction systems: operation, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph or similar device that reproduces amplified sound in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance for any person other than the operator of the device.
(2) 
Loudspeakers/public address systems: the using or operating of any loudspeaker, public address system or similar device between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the following day such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance across a residential real property line; the penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(a) 
First offense: $50.
(b) 
Second offense: $75.
(c) 
Third offense: $100.
(d) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
(3) 
Animals and birds: owning, possessing or harboring any pet animal or pet bird that frequently or for continued duration makes sounds that create a noise disturbance across a residential real property line. For the purpose of this section, a noise disturbance from a barking dog shall be defined as that created by a dog barking continually for 10 minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes, unless provoked; the penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(a) 
First offense: $50.
(b) 
Second offense: $75.
(c) 
Third offense: $100.
(d) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
(4) 
Loading and unloading: the loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, liquids, garbage cans, refuse or similar objects or the compacting of refuse:
(a) 
Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day in such a manner as to exceed any applicable limit set forth in Table 185-5 across a residential property line.
(b) 
By persons engaged in the business of scavenging or garbage collection, whether private or municipal, between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the following day, except by permit.
(5) 
Motor vehicle repairs and testing: repairing, rebuilding, modifying or testing any motor vehicle or motorboat in such a manner as to exceed any applicable limit in Table 185-5[1] across a residential real property line.
[1]
Editor's Note: Table 185-5 is included at the end of this chapter.
(6) 
Construction and demolition: operation or permitting the operation of any tools or equipment used in construction, drilling, earthmoving, excavating or demolition work between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on weekdays or at any time on weekends or legal holidays, except for emergency work or action, by variance issued pursuant to § 185-9 or between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday when the sound level does not exceed any applicable limit specified in Table 185-5; the penalty for a violation of this subsection shall be:
[Amended 4-15-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-949]
(a) 
First offense: $50.
(b) 
Second offense: $75.
(c) 
Third offense: $100.
(d) 
Fourth and subsequent offenses: $150.
(7) 
Air conditioning, air-handling devices and wind energy conversion systems: the operation of air conditioning, air-handling devices, including heat pumps, or wind energy conversion systems that produce a sound level greater than 55 dBA at a real property line of a residential property.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
A. 
The emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency, except as provided in § 185-5C(5).
B. 
The emission of sound in the performance of emergency work.
C. 
Noise from celebrations or events sponsored or approved by the Borough's public schools or parochial schools or houses of worship within the Borough.
A. 
Any person who owns or operates any stationary noise source may apply to the Borough Council through the Borough Administrator for a variance from one or more of the provisions of this chapter. Applications for a permit of variance shall supply information, including but not limited to:
(1) 
The nature and location of the noise source for which such application is made;
(2) 
The reason for which the permit of variance is requested, including the hardship that will result to the applicant, his/her client or the public if the permit of variance is not granted;
(3) 
The nature and intensity of noise that will occur during the period of the variance;
(4) 
The section or sections of this chapter for which the permit of variance shall apply;
(5) 
A description of interim noise control measures to be taken by the applicant to minimize noise and the impacts occurring therefrom;
(6) 
A specific schedule of the noise control measures which shall be taken to bring the source into compliance with this chapter within a reasonable time.
B. 
A copy of the permit of variance must be kept on file by the Borough Administrator for public inspection.
C. 
Failure to supply to the Borough Administrator the information required by this section shall be cause for rejection of the application.
D. 
The Borough Administrator shall charge the applicant a fee of $10 to cover expenses resulting from the processing of the permit of variance application.
E. 
The Borough Council may, at its discretion, limit the duration of the permit of variance, which shall never be longer than one year. Any person holding a permit of variance and requesting an extension of time shall apply for a new permit of variance under the provisions of this section.
F. 
The permit of variance shall operate as a stay of prosecution.
G. 
The permit of variance may be revoked by the Noise Control Officer of the Police Department if the terms of the permit of variance are violated.
H. 
In the event that the reason for which the permit of variance is sought requires action that will not, because of time constraints, allow the matter to be submitted to the Borough Council at a regular meeting, the Borough Administrator is authorized to consider and decide the variance application.
A. 
Issuance of summons. Violation of any provision of this chapter shall be cause for a summons to be issued by the Noise Control Officer or, in the case of prohibited acts specified in § 185-7, by any member of the Essex Fells Police Department.
B. 
Abatement orders.
(1) 
Except as provided in § 185-10B(2), in lieu of issuing a summons, the Noise Control Officer may issue an order requiring abatement of any source of sound alleged to be in violation of this section within a reasonable time period and according to guidelines which the Noise Control Officer may prescribe.
(2) 
An abatement order shall not be issued:
(a) 
If any person willfully or knowingly violates any provisions of this chapter; or
(b) 
If the Noise Control Officer has reason to believe that there will not be compliance with the abatement order.
C. 
Violations and penalties. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be punishable for each offense as provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty. If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it continues shall constitute an additional, separate and distinct offense.
[Amended 11-17-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-878]
D. 
Other remedies. No provision of this chapter shall be construed to impair any common law or statutory cause of action or legal remedy therefrom of any person for injury or damage arising from any violation of this chapter or from other law.