[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Union 7-18-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-1. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 200.
Noise is characterized as unwanted sound. Excessive noise can be a serious threat to the comfort, convenience, health, safety, welfare, and overall quality of life of the citizens of Union Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. It is the intent of this chapter to establish requirements and criteria to prevent excessive noise that may jeopardize the health and welfare of its citizens or degrade their quality of life. Therefore, it intends hereby to prohibit all excessive and unreasonable noise from all sources subject to its police power in order to preserve, protect, and promote health, safety, welfare and the peace, quiet and comfort of the citizens within Union Township limits. This chapter is enacted pursuant to the general powers of the Board of Supervisors, contained in the Second Class Township Code, 53 P.S. § 66506, and associated enforcement provisions related to noise pollution, 53 P.S. § 66601(c.1)(2).
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- AMBIENT NOISE
- The total noise level in a given acoustical environment. Ambient noise is usually a composite of sounds near and far.
- BACKGROUND SOUND LEVEL
- The typical total sound pressure level in a given acoustical environment, excluding the sound(s) of interest/concern.
- Any property receiving noise where the receiving property is located within the Village Commercial Zoning District or the Highway Commercial Zoning District or such successor districts as shall be utilized by the Township of Union on future zoning maps.
- DECIBEL (dB)
- A unit of measure of the sound pressure level at a specific location.
- dB(A) (A-WEIGHTED DECIBEL)
- The symbol designation of a noise level, reported in decibels, using the A-weighted network of a sound level meter, as defined by ANSI S1.4, Specification for Sound Level Meters.
- EMERGENCY SERVICES
- Any work necessary to deliver essential services, including but not limited to fire suppression and related services, medical care and related services, emergency management services, repairing gas, water, electric, telephone, sewer facilities, or public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees from public rights-of-way, or abating life-threatening conditions.
- IMPULSIVE SOUND
- A sound having a duration of less than one second with rapid onset and decay rates.
- Any property receiving noise where the receiving property is located within the Light Industrial Zoning District or Heavy Industrial Zoning District or such successor districts as shall be utilized by the Township of Union on future zoning maps.
- The steady-state, equivalent noise level over a given one-hour period of time that would have the same acoustical energy as the actual varying noise level over that same time period.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle propelled or drawn on land by an engine or motor used for power.
- A device for abating the sound of escaping gases of an internal combustion engine or motor.
- Characterized as unwanted sound. Any sound that annoys or disturbs humans or causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
- NOISE DISTURBANCE
- Any sound at or exceeding any or all of the sound level limitation noise criteria identified in § 131-3 of this chapter, and/or any specific acts constituting a noise disturbance identified in § 131-4 of this chapter.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street, highway, road, sidewalk, avenue, alley, or boulevard which is leased, owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
- Any individual or a business or governmental entity.
- PROPERTY LINE
- The real or imaginary line and its vertical extension which separates real property owned or controlled by one person from that which is owned or controlled by another person.
- PROPOSED NOISE LEVEL
- The future noise level associated with a proposed subdivision, land development, facility/land use, derived by noise monitoring, noise modeling, and/or other mathematical computation.
- Any property where the receiving property is located within the Agricultural Preservation Zoning District, Rural Conservation Zoning District, Low Density Residential Zoning District, or Medium Density Residential Zoning District, or such successor district as shall be utilized by the Township of Union on future zoning maps.
- SOUND LEVEL
- The instantaneous sound pressure level measure in decibels with a sound level meter set for A-weighting on slow response speed, unless otherwise noted.
- SOUND LEVEL METER
- An instrument, including a microphone, an amplifier, an output meter and frequency-weighting networks, used for measurement of sound pressure levels conforming to Type 1 or Type 2 standards as specified in ANSI Standard S1.4, Specifications of Sound Level Meters, 1983 (R1990), or the latest version thereof.
- The Township of Union, Berks County, Pennsylvania acting by and through its Board of Supervisors or its authorized designees.
The following is a three-tiered sound level limitation noise criteria to be followed when evaluating noise levels within Union Township:
Maximum allowable noise increase. No person shall allow, cause, transmit, or propose the operation of any sound source on a particular property, zoning district, public right-of-way, or public space in such a manner as to create a sound level that exceeds average hourly equivalent A-weighted [Leq(h)] background sound levels by 10 dBA or greater during daytime (6:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.) hours and by five dBA or greater during nighttime (10:00 p.m. until 6:30 a.m.) hours, when measured at or within the property line of the receiving property. Such a sound level increase would constitute a noise disturbance and a violation of this chapter.
Maximum permissible noise level. Additionally, noise levels from existing and/or proposed facilities may not exceed the absolute noise level limitations identified in Table 1. Sound levels at or above those shown in Table 1 would constitute a noise disturbance and a violation of this chapter.
Impulsive sounds. Impulsive sounds are sounds that last for short durations, (usually less than one second), with an abrupt onset and a rapid decay. Some examples would include explosions from mining operations, the discharge of firearms, discharge of fireworks, test revving of engines or motors, or other sounds of a similar nature. Sounds of this nature may not equal or exceed a maximum noise level (Lmax) of 80 dBA, when measured at or within the property line of the receiving property. Impulsive sounds at or above 80 dBA (Lmax) would constitute a noise disturbance and a violation of this chapter.
Note: Noise measurements, estimates, and/or predictions should be performed to represent worst-case conditions or noise hour(s). As such, it may be necessary to evaluate the fluctuations in noise over a typical twenty-four-hour day, and identify those periods/hours that would have the greatest potential for noise levels or noise level increases (between existing to future conditions).
In addition to the violations of noise level limitations set forth above, the following items and the causes thereof are declared to be in violation of this Noise Ordinance and constitute a noise disturbance if the use or activity occurs between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., and causes sound that annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensibilities on a residential receiving property:
The use of any sound amplification or reproduction device outside a structure either on private property, public right-of-way, or public space;
The operation of any sound amplification or reproduction device in a vehicle;
The operation of a motor vehicle without an adequate muffler or exhaust system to prevent any unreasonable noise;
The use and operation of any lawn maintenance device, including lawn mowers, edgers, leaf blowers, trimmers, as well as other similar equipment such as snow blowers;
The use of any tools or equipment used in construction, drilling, earthmoving, excavating, or demolition work;
The repairing, rebuilding or testing of any motor vehicle, motorcycle, motorboat, or aircraft (with or without mufflers);
The keeping of any animal or bird which causes repeated noise; provided, however, at the time the animal or bird is making such noise, no person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon the property on which the animal or bird is situate;
Engaging in loud or raucous yelling, hooting, or other disturbing noise producing conduct;
Discharge of firearms or fireworks.
The following items are to be followed when performing noise measurements within Union Township:
The measurement of noise levels under this section shall be performed at points on or within the property line of the receiving property or boundary of a zoning district if the receiving property has multiple zoning districts within it.
Sound level meters used to determine compliance with this section must meet or exceed the specifications of the National Standards Institute Specifications of Sound Level Meters, ANSI S1.4-1983 (R1990), Type 1 or Type 2. Noise meters shall be set to the A-weighted scale and set to "slow" response, except for the measurement of impulsive sounds. Noise measurements related to the evaluation of impulsive sounds shall be set to "fast" response.
The sound level meter must be "field calibrated" before and after any noise monitoring session, and noise measurement and calibration devices must be laboratory calibrated and certified annually (i.e., at least once per year). A copy of factory/laboratory calibration documentation should be kept on file and submitted with reports.
No outdoor measurements should be taken:
During periods when wind speeds (including gusts) exceed 12 mph;
Without a windscreen properly attached to the sound level meter;
During periods of high humidity, or under any condition that allows the sound level meter to become wet (rain, snow or condensation);
When the ambient temperature is out of the range of tolerance of the sound level meter.
The report of each measurement location shall include the following data:
The date, time and day of the week when the measurements are performed;
The times of calibration;
The weather conditions;
The identification of all monitoring equipment by the manufacturer, model number and serial number (and provide factory calibration certificates);
The ambient sound level, in dBA, with the noise sources in question operating;
The background level, in dBA, without the noise sources in question;
A sketch and photos of the measurement site, including all relevant information pertaining to the test;
Except where impractical, the sound level meter should be placed at a height of approximately five feet and mounted securely on a tripod or another acceptable device. The sound level meter should also be away from walls, barriers, obstructions or other sound-reflective surfaces as to not interfere with noise measurements.
The monitoring test should last for a period of time sufficient to ensure that the sounds levels measured are typical of the noise source (or background conditions) in question. Under no circumstances should the monitoring test last less than 10 minutes in duration and may be conducted for as long as 24 hours, depending on conditions and proposed operations.
Background noise. Noise measurements performed to determine compliance with the noise levels in § 131-3 shall be taken in such a manner as to eliminate or reduce atypical background noises. Extraneous sound sources, such as aircraft flyovers or barking dogs, that are unrelated to measurements (and atypical) should be avoided, as not to increase the monitored noise levels of interest (i.e., background or ambient).
The noise is being generated to request assistance or warn of a hazardous situation, is part of providing emergency services, or is part of responding to natural emergencies;
The noise is generated from an authorized warning alarm or siren, emergency vehicle or a vehicle operated by a gas, electric, communications or water/sewer utility;
The noise is generated from a bell, chime or similar device used by a church, mosque, synagogue or a school;
The noise is generated from lawn care and other household maintenance equipment and tools used between 6:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.;
The noise is being generated from construction activities properly permitted by Union Township between 6:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.;
The noise is being generated from the engine of a motor vehicle on a public highway that is subject to regulation exclusively by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation;
Noise generated from community, school or municipality sponsored or approved celebrations or special events; and
Noise generated from agricultural production activities involving agricultural animals, equipment, field machinery (used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications).
For subdivision and land development applications where intensification or change of existing uses on the property are being proposed by the applicant, the Township may require that noise impact studies be submitted for review and approval with any preliminary or final subdivision/land development plan application.
Where public health, safety and welfare are at issue, the Township may also, through its Board of Supervisors, require that noise impact studies be submitted with an application for amendment or change of the Zoning Ordinance or official Zoning Map, building permit applications or conditional use applications; and through its Zoning Hearing Board, require that noise impact studies be submitted for consideration as part of any special exception, variance, or appeal applications.
Township designees and associated technical advisors shall be afforded the right to enter the originating and receiving properties to monitor and investigate compliance with this chapter.
Where property owners cooperate with the Township designee and associated technical advisors, and corrective action is deemed to be necessary to comply with the chapter, the Township may provide an initial informal notification to the originating property regarding the appropriate remedial action necessary.
Any person who is found to have violated an order of the Township or who willfully or negligently failed to comply with the provisions of this chapter and the orders, rules, regulations, and permits issued hereunder shall be prosecuted by action brought before a Magisterial district judge in the same manner provided for the enforcement of summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Municipal Solicitor or the Code Enforcement Officer may assume charge of the prosecution without the consent of the District Attorney as required by Pa.R.Crim.P. No. 83 (relating to trial in summary cases). The Board of Supervisors shall pursue criminal fines not to exceed $1,000 for the violation of this chapter and imprisonment to the extent allowed by law for the punishment of summary offenses. Each day or portion thereof that such violation continues or is permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense, and each section of this chapter that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense.
The Union Township Board of Supervisors may take any appropriate action at law or equity, civil or criminal, to enforce the provisions of this chapter and recover the fees, expenses and costs associated with enforcement. This chapter shall in no way restrict any remedies, including but not limited to injunctive remedies, otherwise available and provided by law.