[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Barrington 6-30-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-2. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Council hereby finds and declares that:
Excessive noise is a serious hazard to the public health, safety and welfare and the quality of life in a close urban society.
A substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive noise can be substantially abated without serious inconvenience to the public.
Certain of the noise-producing equipment in this community is essential to the quality of life and should be allowed to continue at reasonable levels with responsible regulation.
Each person has a right to an environment reasonably free from noise which jeopardizes health or welfare or unnecessarily degrades the quality of life.
It is the declared, policy of the Town to promote an environment free from excessive noise, otherwise properly called "noise pollution," which unnecessarily jeopardizes the public health, safety and welfare and degrades the quality of the lives of the residents of this community, without unduly prohibiting, limiting or otherwise regulating the function of certain noise-producing equipment which is not amenable to such controls and yet is essential to the quality of life in the community.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish standards for the control of noise pollution in the Town by setting maximum permissible sound levels for various activities to protect the public health, safety and general welfare.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning. Definitions of technical terms used in this chapter, which are not defined in this section, shall be obtained from publications of acoustical terminology issued by ANSI or its successor body.
- A-SCALE (dBA)
- The sound level in decibels measured using the A-weight or network as specified in ANSI Standard 1.4-1983 for sound level meters. The level is designated "dB(A)" or "dBA."
- AMBIENT SOUND LEVEL
- The noise associated with a given environment, exclusive of intruding noises from isolated identifiable sources.
- The American National Standards Institute or its successor body.
- Any and all activity necessary or incidental to the erection, assembly, alteration, installation, repair of equipment of buildings, roadways or utilities, including land clearing, grading, excavating and filling.
- The hours between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
- DECIBEL (dB)
- A logarithmic and dimensional unit of measure often used in describing the amplitude of sound, equal to 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of the sound measured to the reference pressure, which is 20 micropascals (20 micronewtons per square meter).
- Any dismantling, intentional destruction or removal of structures, utilities, public or private right-of-way surfaces or similar property.
- DWELLING UNIT
- A building or portion thereof regularly used for residential occupancy.
- EMERGENCY WORK
- Work made necessary to restore property to a safe condition following a public calamity, work to restore public utilities, work required to protect persons or property from imminent exposure to danger, or work to restore emergency personnel and equipment to ready condition.
- Any tract or parcel of land owned by or under the lawful control of one distinct ownership shall be considered a "lot." The lot line or boundary is an imaginary line at ground level which separates a lot and its vertical extension owned by one person from that owned by another.
- MIXED USE
- A dwelling unit or school located in a commercial or industrial zone.
- NOISE DISTURBANCE
- Any sound which exceeds the dBA level for such sound set out in this chapter.
- NONCONFORMING USE
- A use of a structure, building or land which was established as a permitted use and which has been lawfully continued pursuant to the Zoning Code of the Town, but which is not a permitted use in the zone in which it is now located.
- Any individual, association, partnership or corporation, including any officer, department, bureau, agency or instrumentality of the United States, a state or political subdivision of a state, including the Town.
- PLAINLY AUDIBLE
- Any sound for which the information content is unambiguously communicated to the listener, such as, but not limited to, understandable spoken speech, comprehension of whether a voice is raised or normal or comprehensible rhythms.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street, avenue, highway, boulevard, alley, easement or public space which is owned by or controlled by a public government entity.
- PUBLIC SPACE
- Any real property, including any structure thereon, which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
- PURE TONE
- Any sound which can be distinctly heard as a single pitch or set of single pitches.
- REAL PROPERTY BOUNDARY
- An imaginary line along the ground surface, and its vertical extension, which separates the real property owned by one person from that owned by another person, but not including intrabuilding real property divisions.
- RECEIVING LAND USE
- The use or occupancy of the property which received the transmission of sound.
- RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
- Any property on which is located a building or structure used wholly or partially for living or sleeping purposes.
- An oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity or other physical parameter, in a medium with internal forces that cause compression and rarefaction of that medium. The description of sound may include any characteristic of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.
- SOUND LEVEL
- The weighted sound pressure level obtained by the use of a sound level meter and frequency weighting network, such as A, B or C, as specified in ANSI specifications for sound level meters (ANSI Standard 1.4-1983, or the latest approved revision thereof). If the frequency weighting employed is not indicated, the A-weighting shall apply.
- SOUND LEVEL METER
- An instrument which includes a microphone, amplifier, RMS detector, integrator or time averager, output or play meter, and weighting networks used to measure sound pressure levels, which complies with ANSI Standard 1.4-1983.
- SOUND PRESSURE
- The instantaneous difference between the actual pressure and the average or barometric pressure at a given point in space, as produced by sound energy.
- SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL
- Twenty times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the RMS sound pressure to the reference pressure of 20 micronewtons per square meter (20 x 10-6N/m2). The sound pressure level is denoted Lp or SPL and is expressed in decibels.
- STEADY SOUND
- A sound whose level remains essentially constant (+/-2d) during the period of the sound level meter.
- The Town of Barrington, Rhode Island, or the area within the territorial limits of the Town over which the Town has the jurisdiction or control by virtue of ownership or any constitutional or Charter provisions, or any law.
- UNNECESSARY, EXCESSIVE OR OFFENSIVE NOISE
- Any sound or noise conflicting with criteria, standards or levels set forth in this chapter for permissible noises.
- USED AND OCCUPIED
- Include the words "intended, designed or arranged to be" used or occupied.
The penalty for violation for any section of this article shall be up to the maximum allowed by state law for municipalities to impose on ordinance violations as follows:
The first offense in a calendar year shall be punished by the issuance of a written warning to cease and desist the violation.
Each noise disturbance in a calendar year after the issuance of a written warning or order shall be considered a separate offense.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
The emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency or resulting from any authorized emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency call or acting in time of emergency;
The emission of sound in the performance of emergency work;
The unamplified human voice;
Agricultural activities, excluding those involving the ownership or possession of animals or birds;
The emission of sound in the performance of military and other homeland security operations, excluding travel by individuals to or from such duty;
The emission of sound in the discharge of weapons or in fireworks displays licensed by the Town, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.;
The emission of sound in the operation of snow removal equipment; and
The emission of sound relative to permitted construction, demolition, and normal maintenance activities, such as the use of power tools, lawn mowing, leaf blowing, tree cutting, and the like, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Upon good cause shown by the owner, operator or other responsible party of any excessive noise source, the Town Manager or his designee shall have the power to grant a temporary exemption from this chapter, conditioned upon the installation of needed noise control equipment facilities, modifications or other mitigation and noise abatement measures to achieve compliance with this chapter, within a reasonable and sufficient period of time, but in no event beyond the date of the next available Zoning Board meeting.
No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued, except as permitted in this chapter, any noise or sound which constitutes a noise disturbance. In the absence of specific maximum noise levels, a noise level must exceed the ambient noise level by five dBA or more, when measured at the nearest property line or, in the case of a multifamily residential building, when measured anywhere in one dwelling unit with respect to a noise emanating from another dwelling unit or from common space in the same building, in order to constitute a noise disturbance.
General provision: tests for noise disturbances. The factors which shall be considered in determining whether a noise disturbance exists shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
The volume of the noise;
The intensity of the noise;
Whether the nature of the noise is usual or unusual;
Whether the origin of the noise is natural or unnatural;
The volume and intensity of the background noise, if any;
The proximity of the noise to residential sleeping facilities;
The nature and zoning of the area within which the noise emanates;
The density of inhabitation of the area within which the noise emanates;
The time of the day or night the noise occurs;
The duration of the noise;
Whether the noise is recurrent, intermittent or constant; and
Whether the noise is produced by a commercial or noncommercial activity.
Classification of use districts. It is unlawful to project a sound or noise, from one property into another, within the boundary of a use district which exceeds either the limiting noise spectra set forth in Table 1 below, or exceeds the ambient noise level by more than three decibels.
Sound or noise projecting from one use district into another use district with a different noise level limit shall not exceed the limits of each district into which the noise is projected.
Measurement of noise:
The measurement of sound or noise shall be made with a sound level meter and octave band analyzer meeting the standards prescribed by the American Standards Association. The instruments shall be maintained in calibration and good working order. Octave band corrections may be employed in meeting the response specification. A calibration check shall be made of the system at the time of any noise measurement. Measurements recorded shall be taken so as to provide a proper representation of the noise source. The microphone during measurement shall be positioned so as not to create any unnatural enhancement or diminution of the measured noise. A windscreen for the microphone shall be used when required. Traffic, aircraft and other transportation noise sources and other background noises shall not be considered in taking measurements except where such background noise interferes with the primary noise being measured.
The slow meter response of the noise level meter shall be used in order to best determine that the average amplitude has not exceeded the limiting noise spectra set forth in Table I.
The measurement shall be made at the property line of the property on which such noise is generated, or perceived, as appropriate five feet above ground.
In the case of an elevated or directional sound or noise source, compliance with the noise limits is to be maintained at any elevation at the boundary.
With the exception of sound levels elsewhere specifically authorized or allowed in this chapter or exempted by this chapter or by variance, the following are the maximum permissible sound levels allowed at or within the real property boundary of a receiving land use:
No person shall operate or permit the operation of any tool or equipment in construction, drilling or demolition work for public service utilities, which creates a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary.
This chapter shall be implemented, administered and enforced by the Town Police Department or any other Town department or division designated by the Town Manager.
The provisions of this chapter which prohibits a person from making or continuing noise disturbances, or causing the noise disturbance to be made or continued, across a real property boundary, shall be enforced by the Police Department or any other Town department or division as designated by the Town Manager.
To implement and enforce this chapter, the Police Department, or any duly designated Town agency, shall have the power to:
Conduct research, monitoring and other studies related to sound;
Conduct programs of public education regarding the causes, effects and general methods of abatement and control of noise as well as the actions prohibited by this chapter and the procedures for reporting violations;
Coordinate the noise control activities of all Town departments;
Review public and private projects, including those subject to mandatory review or approval by other departments, for compliance with this chapter, if these projects are likely to cause sound in violation of this chapter;
Prepare recommendations for consideration by the Town Council, after publication of notice and after a public hearing.
If any provision of any section of this chapter shall be held invalid, the remainder of the sections and the application of the provisions to persons or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid, shall not be affected thereby.