[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Lexington 4-11-2001 by Art. 33. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town of Lexington finds that excessive or unwarranted noise jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare and degrades the quality of life of its citizens.
The purpose of this by-law is to protect the citizens of Lexington from excessive or unwarranted noise. No person owning, leasing, or controlling a source of sound shall willfully, negligently, or through failure to provide necessary equipment, service, or maintenance or to take necessary precautions cause, suffer, allow, or permit excessive or unwarranted noise.
This by-law shall apply to the control of all sound originating within the limits of the Town of Lexington and shall be consistent in scope and application with the relevant state and federal statutes and regulations.
All Town departments and agencies shall, to the fullest extent consistent with federal and state laws and regulations, carry out their programs in such a manner as to comply with this by-law.
Provisions in this by-law shall not apply to any activity to the extent regulation thereof has been preempted by state or federal law.
When used in this by-law, the following definitions shall apply:
- BROADBAND NOISE
- Any sound that contains a broad range of tonal sounds.
- Any site or building preparation, assembly, erection, substantial repair, alteration, destruction or similar action for public or private rights-of-way, structures, utilities, or similar property.
- 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.
- EXCESSIVE OR UNWARRANTED NOISE
- Any noise that disturbs a reasonably prudent person or results in noise pollution or noise injury.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle which is propelled or drawn on land by a motor, such as, but not limited to, passenger cars, trucks, truck-trailers, semitrailers, campers, tractors, go-carts, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, motorized scooters, racing vehicles, or motorcycles.
- NOISE INJURY
- The condition resulting from any sound that:
- NOISE LEVEL
- Measured property of sound, which for the purpose of this by-law, will be expressed in A-weighted decibels (dBA), obtained with a Type I or II sound level meter as specified under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards.
- NOISE POLLUTION
- The condition resulting when: a broadband sound source raises the noise level by 10 or more dBA above the ambient noise; or a tonal sound source raises its octave band noise level by three decibels or more above the adjacent octave band levels. These threshold levels are identical to those in the Massachusetts Division of Air Quality Control (DAQC) Policy 90-001 (2001).
- TONAL SOUND
- Any sound that has the characteristics of a pure tone, whine, hum or buzz.
Generation of excessive or unwarranted noise is prohibited, except as provided by §§ 80-5 and 80-8 of this by-law. In addition, the following restrictions shall apply:
Construction/private service/maintenance power equipment. Motorized devices and equipment engaged in construction shall be prohibited from use between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., or as otherwise restricted by a Town of Lexington permit.
Commercial trash collection. The operation of commercial trash compactors or collection of trash, rubbish, refuse or debris, which generates excessive or unwarranted noise at any point of public or common pass-by between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. is prohibited.
Commercial deliveries or pickups. Deliveries or pickups for commercial or business purposes between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. are prohibited unless the noise level of such deliveries or pickups in nearby residential areas does not cause excessive or unwarranted noise.
Electronic devices and musical instruments. No person owning, leasing or controlling the operation of any electronic device or musical instrument shall willfully or negligently cause or permit excessive or unwarranted noise.
Fixed plant equipment. Excessive or unwarranted noise caused by fixed plant equipment such as, but not limited to, air conditioners, pumps, fans, furnaces, compressors, engines, ventilation equipment and similar fixed plant equipment is prohibited.
Motor vehicle alarms. No person owning, leasing, renting or otherwise in control of a motor vehicle will permit the sounding of any horn, alarm or other signaling device for any period of time exceeding 10 minutes. Automatic alarm systems must be programmed to reset within 10 minutes and may not activate again within the next 60 minutes. A police officer observing any horn, alarm or other signaling device that fails to comply with this section will direct an owner, operator, renter or person in control of the vehicle to silence the motor vehicle alarm. If, after making a reasonable attempt to contact the vehicle owner, operator, renter or person in control of the vehicle (or if that person refuses to comply), the officer may enter the vehicle to shut off or otherwise disconnect the power source. If unsuccessful, an authorized towing agency may be used to remove the motor vehicle to an approved storage area. The registered owner of the motor vehicle will be responsible for all reasonable costs, charges and expenses incurred for the silencing of the alarm, removal and/or storage of the motor vehicle.
Stationary engine run-up. Permitting, allowing or causing generation of excessive or unwarranted noise at any point of public or common pass-by through the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while said vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes is prohibited.
Domestic mechanical equipment. The outdoor use of domestic mechanical equipment such as lawn mowers and power saws between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. is prohibited.
The provisions of this by-law shall not apply to sounds emitted during or associated with:
Police, fire, and civil and national defense activities, or in training exercises related to emergency activities;
Parades, public gatherings, or sporting events, for which permits have been issued or which are supervised by the School Department or the Parks and Recreation Department;
Noncommercial public speaking and public assembly activities as guaranteed by state and federal constitutions;
Operation of a farm or any ancillary or related activity that is an ordinary aspect of farming;
Emergency work including, but not limited to, the operation of any mechanical device, apparatus, vehicle, or equipment used in connection with an emergency;
Snow removal activity; and
Any activity to the extent the regulation thereof has been preempted by state or federal laws or regulations.
These exemptions shall not apply if the noise is determined to exist as the result of negligent conduct or actions inconsistent with generally accepted practices.
A determination that excessive or unwarranted noise is caused by a given noise source will be made in accordance with the definition of "noise level" in § 80-3.
To determine if there is a noise violation on private property, the noise measurements shall be made at the boundary of the property in which the offending sound source is located. To determine if there is a noise violation in public spaces, the noise measurements shall be made at any location a passerby might lawfully occupy.
The Police, Fire, Health or Inspectional Services Departments, or any designee thereof, shall have power to enforce this by-law.
Any person who violates any provision of this by-law, if convicted, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined an amount not to exceed $50 per first violation. Additionally, any person violating this by-law is also subject to the penalties under Chapter 1, § 1-6 of the General By-Laws. The imposition of a penalty for any violation shall not excuse the violation or permit it to continue. Each day that such violation continues shall be considered a separate offense.
[Amended 3-31-2004 ATM by Art. 39]
The Board of Selectmen, or its designees, may issue a special permit for any activity otherwise forbidden by the provisions of this by-law. A person seeking such a permit shall make a written application to the Board of Selectmen, or designee, on the appropriate form, which shall be available at the office of the Selectmen or its designee. The following criteria shall be considered when deciding whether to issue a special permit:
The Board of Selectmen, or its designees, may issue additional guidelines defining the criteria to be considered and the procedures to be followed in applying for a special permit.
An initial special permit shall remain valid for up to one year from the date it was issued. Renewal of a special permit shall require:
A public hearing for review of whether the cost of compliance will cause an applicant excessive financial hardship; and
Evaluation of noise data at the boundary of the property in which the offending sound source is located. Renewal of a special permit shall be up to three years. Any special permit issued to the applicant shall contain all necessary conditions to ensure minimum disturbance to the adjoining residences.
Legal notice of the time and place of said hearing shall be given by the Board of Selectmen, at the expense of the applicant, by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Lexington once in each of two successive weeks, the first publication to be not less than 14 days before the day of the hearing and by posting such notice in a conspicuous place in the Lexington Town Hall for a period of not less than 14 days before the day of such hearing, and by delivering or mailing a notice thereof to the applicant, the Board of Health, the Police, Fire and Inspectional Services Departments and the abutters within 300 feet of the lot line.
If any section, paragraph or part of this by-law is for any reason declared invalid or unconstitutional by any court, every other section, paragraph and part shall continue in full force.
Nothing in this by-law shall be construed to restrict, amend, repeal, or otherwise limit the application or enforcement of existing Town of Lexington by-laws or Commonwealth of Massachusetts laws.
The Board of Selectmen, or its designees, may promulgate, after public notice and hearing, rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes and intent of this by-law. However, failure by the Board of Selectmen to promulgate such rules and regulations shall not act to suspend or invalidate the effect of this by-law.