City of Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Lancaster as Article 734 of the Codified Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Animals — See Ch. 96.
Zoning Hearing Board — See Ch. Ch. 300, Art. XI.
The Council, finding that excessive levels of sound are detrimental to the physical, mental and social well-being of the residents as well as to their comfort, living conditions, general welfare and safety, and being therefore a public health and welfare hazard, hereby declares it to be necessary to provide for the greater control and more effective regulation of excessive sound and the sources of excessive sound within the City.
This chapter shall also be known as the "Lancaster Noise Control Ordinance."
[Amended 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 8-1998]
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings herein given, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning. All terminology used in this chapter, not defined below, shall be in conformance with the applicable publications of the American National Standards Institute [ANSI S1.1 - 1960 (R1971) and its revisions] or its successor body.
BRAKE RETARDER[1]
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.
[Amended 3-23-2004 by Ord. No. 2-2004]
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.[2]
EMERGENCY
Any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage.
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.
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 mini bikes.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
MOTOR VEHICLE
A vehicle which is self-propelled, except one which is propelled solely by human power or by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails.
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 sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
NOISE-CREATING DEVICE
Any electrical, mechanical or chemical device or instrument, or combination thereof, that creates noise during its operation by a person.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
NOISE DISTURBANCE
In addition to the sounds specified in §198-4B hereof, any sound which:
[Amended 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
A. 
Endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals;
B. 
Annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or
C. 
Endangers or injures personal or real property.
OPERATION
Actual control by a person.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
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.
POWERED MODEL VEHICLE
Any self-propelled airborne, waterborne or landborne plane, vessel or vehicle which is not designed to carry persons, including but not limited to any model airplane, boat, car 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 of 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 enforcing police 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.[3]
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
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, or the superposition of such propagated oscillation which evokes an auditory sensation. The description of sound may include any characteristics of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.[4]
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.[5]
[1]
Editor's Note: The former definitions of “ambient noise” and “A-weighted sound level,” which definitions immediately preceded this definition, were repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
[2]
Editor's Note: The former definition of “decibel; dB," which definition immediately followed this definition, was repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
[3]
Editor's Note: The former definition of “pure tone,” which definition immediately followed this definition, was repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
[4]
Editor's Note: The former definitions of “sound level” and “sound level meter,” which definitions immediately followed this definition, were repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
[5]
Editor's Note: The former definition of “zoning districts,” which definition immediately followed this definition, was repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
A. 
Noise disturbance prohibited. No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or cause to be continued any noise disturbance by any means, nor shall any person suffer, allow or permit any noise disturbance, by any means, to be made or continued from or at any property, whether public or private, real or personal, that is subject to such person's right to control.
[Amended 3-23-2004 by Ord. No. 2-2004]
B. 
Specific prohibitions. The following acts and the causing thereof are declared to be noise disturbances and therefore in violation of this chapter:
(1) 
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 between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. so as to be plainly audible across a property line (boundary);
(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.
(2) 
Yelling and shouting, etc. Engaging in loud or raucous yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing:
(a) 
On the public streets between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.; or
(b) 
At any time or place in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.
(3) 
Construction.
(a) 
Operating or permitting the operation of any tools or equipment used in construction operations, drilling or demolition work between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on weekdays and Saturdays or any time on Sundays or legal holidays, such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance across the residential real property line (boundary), except for emergency work.
[Amended 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
(b) 
This section shall not apply to the use of domestic power tools subject to Subsection B(4) hereof.
(4) 
Domestic power tools. Operating or permitting the operation of any mechanically powered saw, drill, sander, grinder, lawn or garden tool, snowblower or similar device used outdoors in residential areas (see § 198-5A, Table I) between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. so as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary).
(5) 
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 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day 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.
(6) 
Animals and birds. 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.
(7) 
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) between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
(8) 
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 (see § 198-5A, Table I) except between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. and at no time in such a manner as to violate § 198-5A.
(9) 
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) 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection B(9)(b), regarding sound-monitoring devices, was repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
(c) 
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.
(10) 
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.
[Amended 10-13-1998 by Ord. No. 8-1998; 3-23-2004 by Ord. No. 2-2004; 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
(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, Subchapter B, 67 Pa. Code § 157.11. 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 City of Lancaster. 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 City, 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.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 198-5, Sound level by zoning districts, as amended, was repealed 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007.
The following sounds are exempted from the provisions of this chapter:
A. 
Amplified announcements. Electronically amplified announcements at athletic events.
B. 
Blasting. Blasting under permit by the Bureau of Fire, 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.
C. 
(Reserved)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former Subsection C, relating to concerts and similar activities, as amended 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007, was repealed 6-28-2011 by Ord. No. 6-2011.
D. 
Emergency work. Sounds caused by the performance of emergency work or by the ordinary and accepted use of emergency apparatus and equipment.
E. 
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.
F. 
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.
(1) 
Any person responsible for any activity or event involving fireworks or fireworks displays shall apply with the Bureau of Police for an application for a special variance from noise control, in accordance with § 198-7B, prior to applying for a Fire Bureau fireworks permit.
(2) 
Any person involved in any motor vehicle racing event shall apply for a special variance from noise control with the Bureau of Police.
G. 
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.
H. 
Expression or communication protected by the United States Constitution, including the First Amendment, or the Pennsylvania Constitution.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
I. 
Any activity or contact the regulation of which has been preempted by Pennsylvania statute.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
J. 
Any noise created by a governmental entity in the performance of an official duty.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
K. 
Any noise for which a permit has been issued by an authority having jurisdiction to issue the permit.
[Added 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
A. 
Variances.
(1) 
Authority. The Noise Control Board shall have the authority to grant variances, consistent with the provisions of this section, after public hearing, upon application of any person who owns, controls or operates any sound source which does not comply with the provisions or standards of this chapter.
(2) 
Application. The application shall state the standard, provision or section from which the variance is being sought and the period of time and reasons for which the variance is sought. It shall contain information which demonstrates that bringing the sources of sound or activity for which the variance is sought into compliance with this chapter would constitute an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, and it shall contain any other supporting information which may reasonably be required.
(3) 
Public notification. Public notice of an application and the date, time and place of the public hearing to be held thereon for a variance shall be given by publishing notice thereof in a newspaper of general circulation in the City at least once, not less than three days prior to the scheduled public hearing, and by, if practicable, conspicuously posting the premises that is the source of the sound for which the variance is sought.
(4) 
Hearing. The Board shall hold a public hearing to decide variance applications presented to it. Any person who claims to be affected by allowance of the variance may become a party to the hearing.
(5) 
Review standards. In determining whether to grant or deny the application, the Board shall balance the hardship to the applicant versus the adverse impact to the public health, safety and welfare and shall consider at a minimum the following conditions:
(a) 
The physical characteristics of the emitted sound;
(b) 
The times and duration of the emitted sound;
(c) 
The geography, zone and population density of the affected area;
(d) 
Whether the public health and safety is endangered;
(e) 
Whether the sound source predates the receivers; and
(f) 
Whether compliance with the standards from which the variance is sought would produce hardship without equal or greater benefit to the public.
(6) 
Decision. The Board shall render a written decision in granting or denying the application for variance and, if denied, shall state the reasons therefor. The Board's decision shall be made available to the applicant and any other person who requests it in writing. In granting a variance, the Board may attach reasonable conditions, including but not limited to placing a time limit on the permitted activity and/or establishing a time schedule within which the source of sound or activity for which the variance was sought must be brought into compliance with this chapter. Where the grant of a variance is conditioned, the variance shall not become effective until all conditions are agreed to by the applicant. Noncompliance with any condition of the variance shall terminate it and subject the person holding it to those provisions of this chapter regulating the source of sound or activity for which the variance was granted. Variances may be granted for a period of up to one year. The person obtaining the variance may reapply for additional variance periods under terms set forth by the applicant and the Board.
(7) 
Appeals. Appeal from an adverse decision of the Board shall be made to the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County.
B. 
Special variances. The Chief of the Bureau of Police or his designee may, upon application and guided by the standards for use as set forth in Subsection A(5) hereof, grant special variances for infrequent events or activities, including but not limited to band concerts, block parties, church carnivals or other performances or similar activities, publicly or privately sponsored and presented at any public or private space outdoors. Such special variances are not renewable except by action of the Board pursuant to Subsection A hereof. The Board shall hear and decide all appeals from the denial of a special variance, the practice and procedure thereon to be in accordance with Subsection A hereof.
[Amended 6-28-2011 by Ord. No. 6-2011]
C. 
Noise Control Board. The Noise Control Board, for the purposes of this chapter, shall be the Noise Control Board which is hereby created in the City, consisting of five members who shall serve without compensation, and which shall have full authority to carry out the duties of the Noise Control Board, as set forth in this chapter. The following provisions relate to the creation, appointment, powers and meetings of such Noise Control Board:
[Amended 12-20-2011 by Ord. No. 19-2011]
(1) 
A Noise Control Board is hereby created in the City, which Board shall consist of five members who shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of City Council.
(2) 
One member of the Noise Control Board, in the first instance, shall be appointed to serve for one year, one member for two years, one member for three years, one member for four years, and one member for five years; and thereafter, one member of the Noise Control Board shall be appointed annually to serve for the term of five years.
(3) 
The Noise Control Board shall have all of the powers and rights as set forth in this chapter.
(4) 
The Noise Control Board shall meet at such times and places as it deems proper and shall keep regular minutes of its proceedings. It shall have the power, but not the requirement, to adopt rules and bylaws to govern its proceedings.
(5) 
All applications to the Noise Control Board shall be filed through the Director of Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization and shall be accompanied by an application fee of $35.[1] All hearings shall be held not more than 30 days following the filing of the application and the decision thereon rendered within 45 days of the last hearing in the case before the Noise Control Board.
[1]
Editor's Note: Fees are now set by resolution of the City Council. The current fee resolution is on file in the office of the City Clerk.
[Amended 11-28-2006 by Ord. No. 13-2006]
This chapter shall be enforced by the Bureau of Police. In addition, the Animal Law Enforcement Officer shall be authorized to enforce § 198-4B(6) and in so doing shall have the powers of a police officer except the power of arrest.
All ordinances or part of ordinances conflicting with the provisions of this chapter are hereby repealed. It is hereby declared that the provisions of the Dog Law Ordinance codified as Chapter 96, Article I, are not in conflict with this chapter and shall remain in full force and effect.
A. 
Whoever violates any provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding, be fined for a first offense, not less than $150 and not more than $1,000; for a second offense be fined not less than $300 and not more than $1,000; for a third offense be fined not less than $500 and not more than $1,000, to be collected as other fines and costs are by law collectible, or imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both. Whoever violates any provision in this chapter for a fourth offense and for any subsequent conviction shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding, be fined $1,000, to be collected as other fines and costs are by law collectible, and be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 90 days. Each day during which a violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
[Amended 10-22-2002 by Ord. No. 11-2002; 7-24-2007 by Ord. No. 11-2007]
B. 
This chapter and the foregoing penalties shall not be construed to limit or deny the right of the City or any person to such equitable or other remedies as may otherwise be available with or without process of law.
[Added 10-22-2002 by Ord. No. 11-2002]
City Council shall be provided quarterly reports regarding the enforcement of this chapter.