[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Washington 6-26-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-01. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Township of Washington Noise Ordinance."
This chapter is enacted pursuant to the Second Class Township Code.
The purpose of this chapter is to ensure that public health, safety and welfare shall not be abridged by the making or creating of noise pollution or of public nuisances from disturbing, excessive or offensive noises in the Township. The residents of the Township recognize that uncontrolled noise represents a danger to the health and welfare of their neighbors and that each person in the community is entitled to live in an environment in which the level of impulsive and amplified noise is minimized for the community good. It is the purpose and scope of this chapter to provide regulations defining the maximum sound levels that vehicles, appliances and equipment shall be allowed to produce at specified distances from these devices, and also to provide for the prohibition of other kinds of offensive noises. These regulations and prohibitions are intended to protect the physical, mental and social well-being of the residents of the Township of Washington.
The Board of Supervisors finds that failure of individuals, businesses, industries, persons maintaining animals, social gatherings and other activities to regulate the noise emanating from their premises constitutes a violation of the peace and enjoyment of the residents of the Township and a public nuisance. Specifically, such noise emanating from home occupations, businesses, industries, sound amplification equipment, radios, electronic sound recording equipment, vehicles, persons maintaining animals, social gatherings, and other activities:
Creates a nuisance in that residents are deprived of the enjoyment of their homes, disturbed in their sleep, and otherwise prevented from the quiet enjoyment of their residential premises;
Affects the property values of residences in the Township;
Affects the public welfare by reflecting negatively on the quality of life in residential areas of the Township;
Disturbs the peace and good order of the Township; and
Creates noise pollution.
The following words and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section.
All acoustical terminology shall be interpreted in accordance with that contained in ANSI S1.1, "Acoustical Terminology." All other words and terms not defined herein shall be used with a meaning of standard usage.
Words and phrases.
- American National Standards Institute, or its successors.
- DECIBEL (dB)
- A unit of sound level which is a division of a logarithmic scale used to express the ratio of sound pressure of the source to the pressure of an arbitrarily chosen reference pressure; the ratio is expressed on the decibel scale by multiplying its base 10 logarithm by 20.
- EXCESSIVE NOISE
- Excessive noise is that sound which is:
- 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., prevailing time; conversely, daytime: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., prevailing time.
- Any sound emitted by a person, animal, appliance, equipment, instrument or other device.
- NOISE LEVEL
- Airborne sound levels expressed in dB and obtained by the use of specific frequency dependent weighting networks, as specified in the referenced standards and indicated by proper notation; if "A" weighting is employed, the sound level is identified as dB(A).
- NOISE POLLUTION
- Noise of such loudness and character from a single source or from multiple sources, which is, or may be predicted with reasonable certainty to be, injurious to health or which unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of property or with any lawful business or activity. Noise/sound pressure levels exceeding those permitted in any district shall constitute noise pollution.
- PERIOD OF OBSERVATION
- The time interval during which acoustical data are obtained. The period of observation is determined by the characteristics of the noise being measured and the instrumentation being used. The period of observation must be at least as long as the response time of the instrumentation. The greater the variance in individual sound level, the longer must be the observation time for a given expected accuracy of measurement.
- Includes an individual, firm, association, organization, partnership, trust, company, corporation or any other similar entity.
- SOUND LEVEL
- Noise level.
- SOUND LEVEL METER
- An instrument or combination of instruments which meets or exceeds the requirements for an ANSI Type S1A or Type S2A Sound Level Meter.
- The Township of Washington, County of Berks, Pennsylvania.
- Any device, or combination of devices, used for or capable of being used for transporting persons or property. Vehicles include, but are not limited to, the following: automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, motorized bicycles, snowmobiles, scooters, all-terrain vehicles, go-carts, racers, and life devices, farm machinery, industrial machinery, highway graders, trailers, graders and semitrailers.
No person shall create or allow the creation of any noise or operate or cause to be operated any source of sound on property owned, leased, occupied or otherwise controlled by such person, which causes the sound level, when measured at or beyond the boundaries of the lot, parcel, tract or property, on which such activities take place, to exceed the noise levels specified below:
Noise emitted from the following sources shall be exempt from the noise standards specified herein:
All safety signals and warning devices (e.g., intrusion alarms, back-up alarms on trucks); authorized vehicles when responding to emergencies (e.g., police, fire, ambulance sirens or any other device used to alert persons to an emergency or used during the conduct of emergency work).
The provision, repair and maintenance of municipal services or public utilities.
Bells, chimes and carillons used for religious purposes or in conjunction with national celebrations or public holidays.
Appliances, lawn and garden equipment, chain saws, snow removal equipment and power tools in use between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., prevailing time, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified, and in proper operating condition.
Heavy construction equipment when being used on a specific short-term project (such as, constructing a building; constructing, repairing or cleaning a road; drilling a well; and other similar short-term, specific construction, demolition, or repair projects) in use between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., prevailing time, for the duration of such short-term, specific project, provided such heavy construction equipment is operated within the manufacturer specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified and in proper operating condition.
Air conditioners, fans, heating units, similar comfort devices, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified, and in proper operating condition.
Airplanes, helicopters and normal activities of properly licensed airports and trains operating on railroads.
Musical, recreational and athletic events conducted by or permitted by schools, local government, community or community association or village festivals, or events sponsored by nonprofit organizations.
Existing weapons firing ranges during daytime as defined herein.
All motor vehicles being operated on the public roads in the Township of Washington, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified, and in proper working condition.
Activities permitted by special waiver, as provided herein, according to the terms and conditions of said waiver.
All farm-related operations and activities.
Any exiting legitimate or licensed business, commercial or industrial operation between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., prevailing time, provided any appliances, equipment, machinery or devices used in such operation are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified and in proper operating condition.
A temporary waiver from strict compliance with the noise standards specified herein may be granted to persons during emergency circumstances, as determined by the Board of Supervisors, to permit reasonable time to effect repairs.
It is the policy of the Board of Supervisors in adopting this chapter not to force any industrial or commercial enterprise out of business, but rather to work with any industrial or commercial enterprise to find ways to reduce noise levels to the level permitted by this chapter.
This chapter may be enforced by any police officer or by any person affected by noise as defined herein.
The following procedures and penalties are prescribed for enforcement of this chapter.
Warnings. If it is determined by a sound level meter reading that a noise level is in excess of the levels prescribed by this chapter, the Township shall upon written complaint by the affected person, who resides in Washington Township, issue a written warning to the person responsible. Any such warning shall be in effect for six months.
Offenses. If it is determined by a sound level meter reading that a noise level in excess of the levels permitted by this chapter shall have been caused or permitted by any person within six months after the issuance of a warning, any person affected thereby, who resides in Washington Township, may prosecute such person causing or permitting said noise level before the District Magistrate.
Injunctions. In addition, any person affected thereby, may file legal or equitable actions in court to abate or enjoin violations of this chapter.
Public nuisance. Any emission of noise from any source in excess of the limitations established herein is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated by administrative or judicial proceedings, fines and penalties herein provided.
Other remedies. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair any cause of action or legal remedy thereof, of any person or the public for injury or damage arising from the emission or release into the atmosphere or ground from any source whatever of noise on such place or manner, or at such levels which may give rise to such cause of action.
The provisions of this chapter are not intended to interfere with, abrogate or annul other rules, regulations or ordinances, including Title 18 (Crimes Code) and Title 75 (Vehicle Code), Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. If more stringent requirements concerning noise abatement are contained in other statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances, the more stringent regulation shall apply.
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, as a summary offense, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000; and, in default of payment, to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Every day that a violation of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate offense.