[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Council of the Township of Hamilton 4-20-2011 by Ord. No. 11-014 (Ch. 90 of the 1994 Code of Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Alarm systems — See Ch. 94.
[Amended 7-19-2011 by Ord. No. 11-024]
The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Terms not defined in this chapter have the same meaning as those defined in N.J.A.C. 7:29.
- Any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action, including demolition of buildings or structures.
- The sound level as measured using the "C" weighting network with a sound level meter meeting the standards set forth in ANSI S1.4-1983 or its successors. The unit of reporting is dB(C). The "C" weighting network is more sensitive to low frequencies than is the "A" weighting network.
- Any dismantling, destruction or removal of buildings, structures, or roadways.
- DEP or DEPARTMENT
- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
- EMERGENCY WORK
- Any work or action necessary at the site of an emergency to restore or deliver essential services, including, but not limited to, repairing water, gas, electricity, telephone, sewer facilities, or public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way, dredging navigational waterways, or abating life-threatening conditions or a state of emergency declared by a governing agency.
- IMPULSIVE SOUND
- Either a single pressure peak or a single burst (multiple pressure peaks) that has a duration of less than one second.
- MINOR VIOLATION
- A violation that is not the result of the purposeful, reckless or criminally negligent conduct of the alleged violator; and/or the activity or condition constituting the violation has not been the subject of an enforcement action by any authorized local, county or state enforcement agency against the violator within the immediately preceding 12 months for the same or substantially similar violation.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle that is propelled other than by human or animal power on land.
- A properly functioning sound-dissipative device or system for abating the sound on engines or equipment where such a device is part of the normal configuration of the equipment.
- MULTI-DWELLING-UNIT BUILDING
- Any building comprising two or more dwelling units, including, but not limited to, apartments, condominiums, co-ops, multiple-family houses, townhouses, and attached residences.
- MULTI-USE PROPERTY
- Any distinct parcel of land that is used for more than one category of activity. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- A. A commercial, residential, industrial or public service property having boilers, incinerators, elevators, automatic garage doors, air conditioners, laundry rooms, utility provisions, or health and recreational facilities, or other similar devices or areas, either in the interior or on the exterior of the building, which may be a source of elevated sound levels at another category on the same distinct parcel of land; or
- B. A building which is both commercial (usually on the ground floor) and residential property, located above, below or otherwise adjacent to.
- NOISE CONTROL OFFICER (NCO)
- An employee of a local, county or regional health agency which is certified pursuant to the County Environmental Health Act (N.J.S.A. 26:3A2-21 et seq.) to perform noise enforcement activities or an employee of a municipality with a DEP-approved model noise control ordinance. All NCOs must receive noise enforcement training as specified by the DEP at N.J.A.C. 7:29 and is currently certified in noise enforcement. The employee must be acting within his or her designated jurisdiction and must be authorized to issue a summons.
- NOISE CONTROL INVESTIGATOR (NCI)
- An employee of a municipality, county or regional health commission that has a DEP-approved model noise control ordinance and the employee has not received noise enforcement training as specified by the DEP at N.J.A.C. 7:29. However, they are knowledgeable about their model noise ordinance and enforcement procedures. A noise control investigator may only enforce sections of the ordinance that do not require the use of a sound level meter. The employee must be acting within his or her designated jurisdiction and must be authorized to issue a summons.
- PLAINLY AUDIBLE
- Any sound that can be detected by a NCO or NCI using his or her unaided hearing faculties of normal acuity. As an example, if the sound source under investigation is a portable or vehicular sound amplification or reproduction device, the detection of the rhythmic bass component of the music is sufficient to verify plainly audible sound. The NCO or NCI need not determine the title, specific words, or the artist performing the song.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Any real property or structures thereon that are owned, leased, or controlled by a nongovernmental entity.
- PRIVATE RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, sidewalk, alley or easement that is owned, leased, or controlled by a nongovernmental entity.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, sidewalk, alley, park or easement that is owned, leased, or controlled by a governmental entity.
- PUBLIC SPACE
- Any real property or structures thereon that are owned, leased, or controlled by a governmental entity.
- REAL PROPERTY LINE
- Either (a) the vertical boundary that separates one parcel of property, i.e., lot and block, from another residential or commercial property; (b) the vertical and horizontal boundaries of a dwelling unit that is part of a multi-dwelling-unit building; or (c) on a multi-use property as defined herein, the vertical or horizontal boundaries between the two portions of the property on which different categories of activity are being performed (e.g., if the multi-use property is a building which is residential upstairs and commercial downstairs, then the real property line would be the interface between the residential area and the commercial area, or if there is an outdoor sound source such as an HVAC unit on the same parcel of property, the boundary line is the exterior wall of the receiving unit). This definition shall not apply to a commercial source and a commercial receptor which are both located on the same parcel of property (e.g., a strip mall).
- SOUND PRODUCTION DEVICE
- Any device whose primary function is the production of sound, including, but not limited to, any musical instrument, loudspeaker, radio, television, digital or analog music player, public address system or sound-amplifying equipment.
- SOUND REDUCTION DEVICE
- Any device, such as a muffler, baffle, shroud, jacket, enclosure, isolator, or dampener provided by the manufacturer with the equipment, or that is otherwise required, that mitigates the sound emissions of the equipment.
- Any day that is not a federal holiday, and beginning on Monday at 7:00 a.m. and ending on the following Friday at 6:00 p.m.
- Beginning on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending on the following Monday at 7:00 a.m.
This chapter applies to sound from the following property categories:
Sound from stationary emergency signaling devices shall be regulated in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:29-1.4, except that the testing of the electromechanical functioning of a stationary emergency signaling device shall not meet or exceed 10 seconds.
Noise control officers shall have the authority within their designated jurisdiction to investigate suspected violations of any section of this chapter and pursue enforcement activities. Any Hamilton Township law enforcement officer can be qualified as a NCO and enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Noise control investigators shall have the authority within their designated jurisdiction to investigate suspected violations of any section of this chapter that do not require the use of a sound-level meter (i.e., plainly audible, times of day and/or distance determinations) and pursue enforcement activities.
Noise control officers and investigators may cooperate with NCOs and NCIs of an adjacent municipality in enforcing one another's municipal noise ordinances.
Sound measurements made by a noise control officer shall conform to the procedures set forth at N.J.A.C. 7:29-2, except that interior sound-level measurements shall also conform with the procedures set forth in Subsection B of this section and with the definition of "real property line" as contained herein.
When conducting indoor sound-level measurements across a real property line, the measurements shall be taken at least three feet from any wall, floor or ceiling and all exterior doors and windows may, at the discretion of the investigator, be closed. The neighborhood residual sound level shall be measured in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:29-2.9(b)2. When measuring total sound level, the configuration of the windows and doors shall be the same and all sound sources within the dwelling unit must be shut off (e.g., television, stereo). Measurements shall not be taken in areas which receive only casual use such as hallways, closets and bathrooms.
No person shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit the operation of any source of sound on any property described in § 311-2A in such a manner as to create a sound level that equals or exceeds the sound level limits set forth in Table I, II or III when measured at or within the real property line of any of the receiving properties listed in Table I, II or III, except as specified in § 311-4B.
Impulsive sound. Between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., impulsive sound shall not equal or exceed 80 decibels. Between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., impulsive sound which occurs less than four times in any hour shall not equal or exceed 80 decibels. Impulsive sound which repeats four or more times in any hour shall be measured as continuous sound and shall meet the requirements as shown in Tables I and II.
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of any sound production device in such a manner that the sound crosses a property line and raises the total sound levels above the neighborhood residual sound level by more than the permissible sound level limits set forth in Table IV when measured within the residence of a complainant according to the measurement protocol in § 311-4B of this chapter. These sound level measurements shall be conducted with the sound level meter set for "C" weighting, "fast" response.
[Amended 7-19-2011 by Ord. No. 11-024]
The following standards shall apply to the activities or sources of sound set forth below:
Excluding emergency work, power tools, home maintenance tools, landscaping and/or yard maintenance equipment used by a residential property owner or tenant shall not be operated between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., unless such activities can meet the applicable limits set forth in Table I, II or III. At all other times the limits set forth in Table I, II or III do not apply. All motorized equipment used in these activities shall be operated with a muffler and/or sound-reduction device.
Excluding emergency work, power tools, landscaping and/or yard maintenance equipment used by nonresidential operators (e.g., commercial operators, public employees) shall not be operated on a residential, commercial, industrial or public (e.g., golf course, parks, athletic fields) property between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, or between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on weekends or federal holidays, unless such activities can meet the limits set forth in Table I, II or III. At all other times the limits set forth in Table I, II or III do not apply. All motorized equipment used in these activities shall be operated with a muffler and/or sound-reduction device.
All construction and demolition activity, excluding emergency work, shall not be performed between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on weekdays, or between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on weekends and federal holidays, unless such activities can meet the limits set forth in Table I, II or III. At all other times the limits set forth in Table I, II or III do not apply. All motorized equipment used in these activities shall be operated with a muffler and/or sound-reduction device.
Motorized snow removal equipment shall be operated with a muffler and/or sound-reduction device when being used for snow removal. At all other times the limits set forth in Table I, II or III do not apply.
All interior and exterior burglar alarms of a building or motor vehicle must be activated in such a manner that the burglar alarm terminates its operation within five minutes for continuous airborne sound and 15 minutes for intermittent sound after it has been activated. At all other times the limits set forth in Table I, II or III do not apply.
Self-contained, portable, nonvehicular music or sound production devices shall not be operated on a public space, public right-of-way, private property or private right-of-way in such a manner as to be plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., sound, operated on a public space, public right-of-way, private property or private right-of-way, from such equipment shall not be plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet in any direction from the operator.
It shall be unlawful for any property owner or tenant to allow any domesticated or caged animal to create a sound across a real property line which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort, and repose of any resident, or to refuse or intentionally fail to cease the unreasonable noise when ordered to do so by a noise control officer or noise control investigator. Prima facie evidence of a violation of this section shall include, but not be limited to:
Vocalizing (howling, yelping, barking, squawking, etc.) for five minutes without interruption, defined as an average of four or more vocalizations per minute in that period; or
Vocalizing for 20 minutes intermittently, defined as an average of two vocalizations or more per minute in that period.
It shall be an affirmative defense under this subsection that the dog or other animal was intentionally provoked to bark or make any other noise.
Violations of each subsection of this section shall be considered purposeful and therefore nonminor violations.
No person shall remove or render inoperative, or cause to be removed or rendered inoperative or less effective than originally equipped, or modified in any manner to be less effective than originally equipped, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair, or replacement, any device or element of design incorporated in any motor vehicle for the purpose of noise control. No person shall operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle which has been so modified. A vehicle not meeting these requirements shall be deemed in violation of this provision if it is operated stationary or in motion in any public space or public right-of-way.
No motorcycle shall be operated stationary or in motion unless it has a muffler that complies with and is labeled in accordance with the Federal Noise Regulations under 40 CFR Part 205.
Personal or commercial vehicular music amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated in such a manner that is plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
Personal or commercial vehicular music amplification or reproduction equipment shall not be operated in such a manner that it is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet in any direction from the operator between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Construction and demolition activities are exempt from the sound-level limits set forth in Tables I, II and III except as provided for in § 311-7 above.
Sound-production devices required or sanctioned under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), FEMA or other government agencies to the extent that they comply with the noise requirements of the enabling legislation or regulation. Devices which are exempted under N.J.A.C. 7:29-1.5 shall continue to be exempted.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be constructed to apply to:
The use of bells, chimes or sound amplifiers by churches in church activity.
Activities of the municipal departments in the performance of their duties, drills or public demonstrations.
Activities in the public parks, playgrounds or public buildings under the permission or authority of the municipal officials, or schools and/or school functions.
Violation of any provision of this chapter shall be cause for a notice of violation (NOV) or a notice of penalty assessment (NOPA) document to be issued to the violator by the noise control officer or noise control investigator.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty for each offense of not more than the maximum penalty allowed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:49-5, which is $2,000 as of December 2014. If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it occurs shall constitute an additional, separate, and distinct offense.
[Amended 2-17-2015 by Ord. No. 15-008]
Upon identification of a violation of this chapter, the noise control officer or noise control investigator shall issue an enforcement document to the violator. The enforcement document shall identify the condition or activity that constitutes the violation and the specific provision of this chapter that has been violated. It shall also indicate whether the violator has a period of time to correct the violation before a penalty is sought.
If the violation is deemed by the noise control officer or noise control investigator to be a minor violation (as defined in § 311-1) a NOV shall be issued to the violator.
The document shall indicate that the purpose of the NOV is intended to serve as a notice to warn the responsible party/violator of the violation conditions in order to provide them with an opportunity to voluntarily investigate the matter and voluntarily take corrective action to address the identified violation.
The NOV shall identify the time period (up to 90 days), pursuant to the Grace Period Law, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-125 et seq., where the responsible party's/violator's voluntary action can prevent a formal enforcement action with penalties issued by the Township of Hamilton. It shall be noted that the NOV does not constitute a formal enforcement action, a final legal determination that a violation has occurred. Therefore, the NOV may not be appealed or contested.
If the violation is deemed by the noise control officer or noise control investigator to be a nonminor violation, the violator shall be notified that if the violation is not immediately corrected a NOPA with a civil penalty of no more than the maximum penalty allowed pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:49-5, which is $2,000 as of December 2014, will be issued. If a nonminor violation is immediately corrected, a NOV without a civil penalty shall still be issued to document the violation. If the violation occurs again (within 12 months of the initial violation), a NOPA shall be issued regardless of whether the violation is immediately corrected or not.
[Amended 2-17-2015 by Ord. No. 15-008]
The violator may request from the noise control officer or noise control investigator an extension of the compliance deadline in the enforcement action. The noise control officer or noise control investigator shall have the option to approve any reasonable request for an extension (not to exceed 180 days) if the violator can demonstrate that a good faith effort has been made to achieve compliance. If an extension is not granted and the violation continues to exist after the grace period ends, a NOPA shall be issued.
The recipient of a NOPA shall be entitled to a hearing in a Municipal Court having jurisdiction to contest such action.
The noise control officer or noise control investigator may seek injunctive relief if the responsible party does not remediate the violation within the period of time specified in the NOPA issued.
Any claim for a civil penalty may be compromised and settled based on the following factors:
No provision of this chapter shall be constructed 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.