Borough of Ephrata, PA
Lancaster County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Ephrata 9-11-2017 by Ord. No. 1535. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Alarm devices — See Ch. 115.
A. 
Title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Borough of Ephrata Noise Control Ordinance."
B. 
Authority. This chapter is enacted under authority of 8 Pa.C.S.A. § 101 et seq.
C. 
Purpose. It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to ensure that public health, safety and welfare shall not be abridged by the making and creating of public nuisances from disturbing, excessive or offensive noises or vibrations in the Borough of Ephrata.
D. 
Scope. This chapter applies to all persons, property, animals, equipment, appliances, instruments and other sound-emitting devices, as regulated herein.
E. 
Relationship with other restrictions. 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 (Vehicles Code), Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. If more stringent requirements concerning noise abatement are contained in the other rules, regulations or ordinances, the more stringent regulation shall apply. No provision, regulation, duty, limitation or restriction of this chapter shall penalize a person for a contact made for police or emergency assistance by or on behalf of a victim of abuse as defined in 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6102 (relating to definitions), a victim of a crime pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. (relating to crimes and offenses), or an individual in an emergency pursuant to 35 Pa.C.S.A. § 8103 (relating to definitions) if the contact was made based upon the reasonable belief of the person making the contact that intervention or emergency assistance was necessary to prevent the perpetration or escalation of the abuse, crime or emergency or if the intervention or emergency assistance was actually needed in response to the abuse, crime or emergency.
Unless otherwise expressly stated or the context clearly indicates a different intention, the following terms have the following meanings:
BOROUGH
The Borough of Ephrata, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
BRAKE RETARDER/COMPRESSION RELEASE BRAKE
A motor/engine retarding device, or any retarding device or system that brakes on the motor or engine rather than on the wheels as a means of slowing or stopping a truck, truck tractor, motor carrier vehicle, motor vehicle or vehicle.
CONSTRUCTION OPERATION
The erection, repair, renovation, demolition or removal of any building or structure and the excavation, filling, grading and regulation of lots in connection therewith; the construction, reconstruction or repair of any street, alley or other area intended for vehicular or pedestrian use.
EMERGENCY
Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical or psychological trauma or property damage which demands immediate action.
EMERGENCY WORK
Any work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating the physical trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.
IMPULSIVE SOUND
Sound of short duration, usually less than one second, with an abrupt onset and rapid decay. Examples of impulsive sound include explosions, drop forge impacts and the discharge of firearms.
MOTOR CARRIER VEHICLE
A truck, truck tractor or combination having a gross weight or registered gross weight in excess of 17,000 pounds.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any motor-powered vehicle designed to carry at least one passenger or driver, including, but not limited to, those motor-powered vehicles of the type typically licensed for use on the public highways; a vehicle which is self-propelled, except an electric personal assistance mobility device or a vehicle which is propelled solely by human power.
MOTORCYCLE
An unclosed motor vehicle, having a saddle for the use of the operator, with two or three wheels in contact with the ground, including, but not limited to, motor scooters and minibikes.
MUFFLER or SOUND-DISSIPATIVE DEVICE
A device designed or used for decreasing or abating the level of sound escaping from an engine or machinery system.
NOISE
Any plainly audible sound emitted by a person, an appliance, equipment, instrument, other device or an animal which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
NOISE DISTURBANCE
In addition to those unlawful noises prohibited in § 214-3 of this chapter, any sound which:
A. 
Endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals; or
B. 
Annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or
C. 
Endangers or injures personal or real property.
NOISE-CREATING DEVICE
Any electrical, mechanical or chemical device or instrument, or combination thereof, that creates noise during its operation by a person.
OPERATION
Actual control by a person.
PERSON
Any individual, association, partnership or corporation, and includes any officer, employee, department, agency or instrumentality of a state or any political subdivision of a state. Whenever used in any clause prescribing and imposing a penalty, "person" includes the individual members, partners, officers and managers or any of them of partnerships and associations and, as for corporations, the officers and managers thereof or any of them.
PLAINLY AUDIBLE
Any sound that can be detected by a person of normal sensibilities using his or her unaided hearing facilities.
POWERED MODEL VEHICLE
Any self-propelled airborne, waterborne or land-borne plane, vessel or vehicle which is not designed to carry persons, including, but not limited to, any model airplane, boat, car, drone or rocket.
PROPERTY LINE (BOUNDARY)
An imaginary line drawn through the points of contact of adjoining lands, apartments, condominiums, townhouses and duplexes owned, rented or leased by different persons; a demarcation or a line of separate properties and, also, for any two or more buildings sharing common grounds, the line drawn midway between any two such buildings. All areas devoted to public rights-of-way shall be deemed to be across the property line. For the purpose of this definition, the property line includes all points on a plane formed by projecting the property line in a manner deemed appropriate by the enforcement officer.
PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
Any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, sidewalk, alley or similar place which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
PUBLIC SPACE
Any real property or structures thereon which are owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
REAL PROPERTY
All land, whether publicly or privately owned, whether improved or not improved, with or without structures, exclusive of any areas devoted to public rights-of-way.
SOUND
Something audible: something that can be heard; vibrations sensed by ear: vibrations traveling through air, water, or some other medium, especially those within the range of frequencies that can be perceived by the human ear. The description of sound may include any characteristic of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.
SOUND EQUIPMENT
Any radio, record player, tape deck or player, loudspeaker, amplifier, soundtrack or other device for producing, reproducing or amplifying sound, except, however, "sound equipment" does not include mobile radio or telephone signaling devices and automobile and truck radios, tape decks or players or other such standard equipment used and intended for the use and enjoyment of the occupants, provided that the sound emitted therefrom is not plainly audible at a distance greater than 50 feet from such automobile or truck.
TRUCK
A motor vehicle designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.
TRUCK TRACTOR
A motor vehicle designed and used primarily for drawing other vehicles and not so constructed as to carry a load other than a part of the weight of the vehicle and load so drawn.
VEHICLE
Every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon rails or tracks.
A. 
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to make or cause to be made any noise disturbance or to allow any noise disturbance to be caused or made in or on any real or personal property occupied or controlled by that person.
B. 
In addition to the foregoing, it shall also be unlawful for any person to create, assist in creating, or, as owner, lessee or occupant of the property on which the activity is located, permit any of the following acts which are declared to be noise disturbances and, therefore, in violation of this chapter:
(1) 
Sound equipment, including radios, television sets, musical instruments and similar devices. Operating, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, automobile radio, automobile stereo, high-fidelity equipment or similar device which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound:
(a) 
At any time in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a property line (boundary); or
(b) 
In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a property line (boundary), or at 50 feet from such device, whichever is less, when the device is operated in or on a motor vehicle or hand-carried on a public right-of-way or public space; or
(c) 
In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance to any person other than the operator of the device, when operated by any passenger or a common carrier; or
(d) 
Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. so as to be plainly audible beyond the property line (boundary) of a single-family dwelling unit from which it is generated or beyond the property line (boundary) of the duplex dwelling unit or individual dwelling unit of the multiple-family dwelling unit from which it is generated; or
(e) 
Plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the vehicle in which it is generated; or
(f) 
Plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from its location on public property or private property open to the general public; or
(g) 
Causing or has caused vibrations with a bass within a dwelling unit or within a vehicle other than the unit or vehicle from which it is/was generated.
(2) 
Shouting and whistling. Continuous or repeated yelling, shouting, loud whistling, or loud singing, so as to disturb the peace, comfort, or repose of others within the Borough by being plainly audible to persons within any dwelling, hotel, hospital, office or other type of residence other than that from which it originates.
(3) 
Animal and bird noises. Owning, possessing, harboring or controlling any animal or bird which howls, barks, meows, squawks or makes other sounds continuously and/or incessantly for a period of 10 minutes or makes such noise intermittently for 1/2 hour or more to the disturbance of any person at any time of the day or night regardless of whether the animal or bird is situated in or upon private property; provided, however, that at the time the animal or bird is making such noise, no person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon private property in or upon which the animal or bird is situated or for any other legitimate cause which teased or provoked the animal or bird.
(4) 
Whistles or sirens. The blowing of any amplified or electronic whistles, vuvuzelas, air horns or sirens, except to give notice of the time to begin or stop work or as a warning of fire or other danger.
(5) 
Construction noise. Operating or causing to be operated any equipment used in construction, repair, alteration or demolition work on buildings, structures, streets, alleys or appurtenances thereto in the following manner:
(a) 
With sound control devices or standard noise-reducing equipment which has been tampered with or not being operated within the manufacturer's specifications or otherwise not in proper operating condition.
(b) 
Between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays and between 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings and 9:00 a.m. on Sundays and between 10:00 p.m. on the day preceding and 9:00 a.m. on legal holidays, which creates a noise disturbance, unless otherwise exempted in this chapter or by an act of the Borough Council.
(6) 
Power equipment. Operating, or permitting to be operated, any power saw; sander; drill; grinder; lawn mower; leaf blower; garden equipment; power washer; generator during a nonemergency situation; or tools of a similar nature outdoors between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays and between 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings and 9:00 a.m. on Sundays and between 10:00 p.m. on the day preceding and 9:00 a.m. on legal holidays, in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary).
(7) 
Explosives, firearms, fireworks, or similar devices. The use or firing of explosives, firearms, fireworks, or similar devices which create a noise disturbance.
(8) 
Devices to attract attention. The continuous or repeated use of any drum, loudspeaker, amplifier, or other instrument or device for the purpose of attracting attention so as to disturb the peace, comfort, or repose of others within the Borough by being plainly audible to persons within any dwelling, hotel, hospital, office or other type of residence other than that from which it originates.
(9) 
Other excessive noise. The creation of any other excessive or unreasonably loud noise which disturbs the peace, comfort, or repose of others within the Borough by being plainly audible to persons within any dwelling, hotel, hospital, office or other type of residence other than that from which it originates.
(10) 
Yelling and shouting, etc. Engaging in loud or raucous yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public streets between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.; or at any time or place in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(11) 
Loading and unloading. Loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, garbage cans or similar objects between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays and between 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings and 9:00 a.m. on Sundays and between 10:00 p.m. on the day preceding and 9:00 a.m. on legal holidays in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary). This section shall not apply to municipal or utility services in or about the public right-of-way.
(12) 
Powered model vehicles. Operating or permitting the operation of powered model vehicles so as to create a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary).
(13) 
Street sales. Offering for sale or selling by shouting or outcry or by any other amplified or unamplified sound within any residential or commercial area except between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
(14) 
Tampering. The following acts or the causing thereof are prohibited:
(a) 
The removal or rendering inoperative by any person other than for purposes of maintenance, repair or replacement of any muffler or sound-dissipative device or element of design or noise label of any product;
(b) 
The use of a product which has had a muffler or sound-dissipative device or element of design or noise label removed or rendered inoperative, with knowledge that such action has occurred.
(15) 
Vehicle, motorboat or aircraft repairs and testing. Repairing, rebuilding or testing any motor vehicle, motorcycle, motorboat or aircraft in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential real property line (boundary).
C. 
Prohibition of certain noises upon public rights-of-way and/or by the use of motor vehicles and noise-creating devices.
(1) 
Motor vehicle and motorcycles on public rights-of-way. No person shall operate or cause to be operated a public or private motor vehicle or motorcycle, or any equipment attached to such a vehicle, on a public right-of-way at any time in such a manner that the noise or sound level emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle, or any equipment attached to such a vehicle, violates or exceeds the levels set forth in Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Regulations Title 67, Chapter 157, 67 Pa. Code § 157.11(b). With respect to motorcycles, all motorcycles shall be equipped with a muffler or other noise-suppressing system in good working order at all times. No motorcycle with an exhaust system that has been altered or modified in any way to enable the exhaust system to amplify or increase the sound level in excess of the established sound levels set forth in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Regulations Title 67 Pa. Code § 157.11(a), shall be operated on any public rights-of-way.
(2) 
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 15 minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion, anywhere within 150 feet of any residence in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary).
(3) 
Unnecessary horn blowing. No person shall at any time sound the horn or other warning device of a vehicle except when absolutely necessary as a warning while actually driving such vehicle.
(4) 
Sound trucks. No person shall operate sound-amplifying equipment mounted on or attached to any motor vehicle at any time in such a manner as to exceed the maximum permissible motor vehicle noise emissions as set forth in Subsection C(1) hereof.
(5) 
Motor/engine retarder devices. No person shall use a brake retarder or other motor/engine retarding device while operating a truck, truck tractor, motor carrier vehicle, motor vehicle or any other vehicle within the Borough of Ephrata where said prohibition has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The prohibition against use of a brake retarder or other motor/engine retarding device shall not apply to an "emergency vehicle" as defined in Pennsylvania Title 75 when said emergency vehicle is actually responding to an emergency call.
(6) 
No person shall cause or allow the tires of a motor vehicle, which the person is operating, to squeal except when necessary in order to avoid a collision with another person, vehicle or other property.
(7) 
No person, while occupying any public right-of-way in the Borough, shall operate any noise-creating device in such a manner that the public's attention is drawn to the source of the noise. The prohibition of this section shall include rapid throttle advance and/or revving of an internal combustion engine resulting in increase of noise from the engine.
D. 
Prima facie violation. The noise from any of the aforesaid prohibited acts that disturbs two or more residents who are in general agreement as to the times and durations of the noise and who reside in separate residences, including apartments and condominiums, located across a property line (boundary) from the property on which the source of the noise is generated, shall be prima facie evidence of a noise disturbance.
A. 
None of the terms or prohibitions of § 214-3 shall apply to or be enforced for any of the following:
(1) 
Safety and warning devices. Safety signals and warning devices (e.g., stationary emergency signal devices, intrusion alarms, back-up alarms on trucks, police/fire/ambulance sirens) or any other device used to alert persons to an emergency or used during emergency work.
(2) 
Highway and utility maintenance and construction. Necessary excavations in or repairs of bridges, streets, or highways, or any public utility installation by or on behalf of the Borough, or any public utility or any agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, during the night or on Sunday, when the public health, safety, or welfare necessitates the performance of the work at such time.
(3) 
Municipal facilities or public utilities. The provision, repair and maintenance of municipal services, facilities, or public utilities.
(4) 
Law enforcement. The sounds made or caused to be made by law enforcement officials in the performance of their official duties such as sirens, two-way radio communications, public address systems, the discharging of a firearm, aircraft, etc.
(5) 
Ephrata Area School District or Ephrata Borough. Musical (including concerts), recreational and athletic events conducted by Ephrata Area Schools or the Borough, including such outdoor practices as may be necessary in preparation for such events.
(6) 
Bells, chimes and carillons. Bells, chimes and carillons used for religious purposes or in conjunction with national celebrations or public holidays; existing bells, chimes and carillons and clock strike mechanisms that are currently in use for any purpose.
(7) 
Appliances, lawn and garden equipment or household power tools. Appliances, lawn and garden equipment or household power tools in use between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise reducing equipment is in use, unmodified and in proper operating condition.
(8) 
Air conditioners, fans, heating units. Air conditioners, fans, heating units and similar devices of less than eight tons' heating or cooling capacity, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and all reasonable measures have been taken to reduce noise levels where the sounds emitted therefrom would otherwise create a noise disturbance.
(9) 
Snow removal. The operation of snow removal equipment necessary for the removal of snow or ice from public or private streets, alleys, drives, sidewalks, and parking areas, provided that any motor vehicle used for snow removal which is required to be licensed shall be equipped with an exhaust system in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise and shall be equipped to prevent engine noise in excess of the limits established by the laws or statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Also, any motor-driven vehicle of a type not subject to registration for road use or domestic snow removal equipment shall be equipped with an exhaust system or mufflers in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
(10) 
Construction equipment. Heavy construction equipment (including pile drivers, crawler-tractors, bulldozers, rotary drills and augers, loaders, power shovels, cranes, derricks, motor graders, paving machines, ditchers, trenchers, compactors, scrapers, pavement breakers, compressors, pneumatic power equipment and similar devices) in use between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays, and between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Sundays and legal holidays, for the duration of such construction and demolition work, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified and in proper operating condition.
(11) 
Parades, festivals and similar events. Borough-approved or -sponsored concerts, parades, festivals, fairs, music or other events.
(12) 
Aircraft. Any aircraft operated in conformity with, or pursuant to, federal law, federal air regulations, and air traffic control and instructions and pursuant to and within the duly adopted federal air regulations.
(13) 
Special waivers. Activities permitted by emergency waiver, as provided herein, and activities conducted in accordance with special activity permits for use of public property or the public rights-of-way, approved by the Borough Council.
(14) 
Amplified announcements. Electronically amplified announcements at athletic events.
(15) 
Blasting. Blasting under permit by the Borough of Ephrata, which blasting may occur only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless specifically authorized by such permit.
(16) 
Emergency work. Sounds caused by the performance of emergency work or by the ordinary and accepted use of emergency apparatus and equipment.
(17) 
Municipal and utility services. Sounds resulting from the repair or replacement of any municipal or utility installation in or about the public right-of-way.
(18) 
School and public activities. Sounds not electronically amplified, created by organized school-related programs, activities, athletic and entertainment events or other public programs, activities or events other than fireworks or fireworks displays and motor vehicle racing events.
(a) 
Any person responsible for any activity or event involving fireworks or fireworks displays shall first obtain approval for such activity from the Borough Council.
(b) 
Any person involved in any motor vehicle racing event shall first obtain approval for such activity from the Borough Council.
(19) 
Warning devices. Sounds made by warning devices operating continuously for three minutes or less, except that in the event of an actual emergency, the time limitation shall not apply.
(20) 
Expression or communication protected by the United States Constitution, including the First Amendment, or the Pennsylvania Constitution.
(21) 
Any activity or contact the regulation of which has been preempted by Pennsylvania statute.
(22) 
Any noise created by a governmental entity in the performance of an official duty.
(23) 
Any noise for which a permit has been issued by a regulatory authority having jurisdiction to issue the permit.
(24) 
Any noise created by an activity or event for which approval has been issued by a regulatory authority having jurisdiction.
(25) 
Emergency generators.
(26) 
Garage and yard sales when authorized by permit and conducted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 189 of the Code of the Borough of Ephrata.
(27) 
Ordinary and customary sounds produced by lawfully existing commercial, industrial or institutional activities and land uses.
(28) 
Refuse and recycling activities when conducted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 271 of the Code of the Borough of Ephrata.
(29) 
The ordinary and customary noise created by an activity or event for which approval has been issued and which is conducted in compliance with a special event authorized by the Council of the Borough of Ephrata.
A. 
Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this chapter shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $1,000 for the first offense, not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for the second offense, and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offense in any one-hundred-eighty-day period and, upon failure to pay such fine, shall be sentenced to jail for a term not to exceed 30 days for each offense.
B. 
A penalty provided for under this chapter may be imposed in addition to any penalty that may be imposed for any other criminal offense arising from the same conduct.
C. 
Each act of violation and every day upon which such violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
D. 
In addition to the fines set forth hereinabove, any person found guilty of violating any provision of this chapter shall pay the court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the Borough in the enforcement proceedings.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by Borough police officers, Borough ordinance enforcement officers, and others designated by the Council of the Borough of Ephrata.
A temporary waiver from strict compliance with the noise standards specified herein may be granted to persons for emergencies, as determined by the Borough Manager or his or her designee, to protect health and safety or to comply with other lawful rules, regulations and ordinances.