[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Coatesville 10-10-1989 by Ord. No. 845-89 as Ch. 120 of the 1989 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
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 "Coatesville Noise Control Ordinance."
All terminology used in this chapter and 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.
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:
- AMBIENT NOISE
- The all-encompassing noise associated with a given environment, being usually a composite of sounds from many sources near and far.
- A-WEIGHTED SOUND LEVEL
- The sound-pressure level in decibels as measured on a sound-level meter using the A-weighting network. The level so read is designated dB(A).
- 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.
- DECIBEL (dB)
- A unit for measuring the sound-pressure level, equal to twenty (20) times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of the sound measured to the reference pressure, which is twenty (20) micropascals [twenty (20) micronewtons per square meter].
- 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 (1) second, with an abrupt onset and rapid decay. Examples of "impulsive sound" include explosions, drop-forge impacts and the discharge of firearms.
- 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.
- Any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
- NOISE DISTURBANCE
- Any sound which:
- 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.
- 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.
- PURE TONE
- Any sound which can be heard as a single pitch or a set of single pitches. For the purpose of this chapter, a "pure tone" shall exist if the one-third-octave band sound pressure level in the band with the tone exceeds the arithmetic average of the sound-pressure levels of the two (2) contiguous octave bands by five (5) dB for center frequencies of five hundred (500) hertz and above and by eight (8) dB for center frequencies between one hundred sixty (160) and four hundred (400) hertz and by fifteen (15) dB for center frequencies less than or equal to one hundred twenty-five (125) hertz.
- 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 separation of properties, and also, for any two (2) or more buildings sharing common grounds, the line drawn midway between any two (2) 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.
- 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.
- An oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity or other physical parameter, in a medium with internal forces that causes compression and rarefraction 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.
- 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 the American National Standards Institute Specifications for Sound-Level Meters (ANSI s1.4-1971, or the latest 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 meter and any applicable weighting network used to measure sound-pressure levels, which meets or exceeds the requirement for a Type I or Type II sound-level meter as specified in ANSI Specification sl.4-1971. The manufacturer's published indication of compliance with such specifications shall be prima facie evidence of such compliance.
Noise disturbance prohibited. No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued any noise disturbance, nor shall any person suffer, allow or permit any noise disturbance to be made or continued from or at any property, whether real or personal, that is subject to such person's right to control.
Specific prohibitions. The following acts and the causing thereof are declared to be noise disturbances and therefore in violation of this chapter:
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:
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).
In such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a property line (boundary) or at fifty (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.
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.
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 at any time on Sundays or legal holidays, such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance across a residential real property line (boundary), except for emergency work; or
At any other time such that the sound level at or across a real property line (boundary) exceeds eighty-five (85) dB(A) for a period of one (1) hour.
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 § 161-5A, 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).
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.
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 ten (10) minutes or makes such noise intermittently for one-half (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 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.
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.
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.
The intentional moving or rendering inaccurate or inoperative of any sound-monitoring instrument or device positioned by or for the Police Department, provided that such device or the immediate area is clearly labeled in accordance with noise control regulations to warn of the potential illegality.
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.
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).
Motor vehicle prohibitions.
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 sound level emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle or any equipment attached to such a vehicle exceeds the level set forth in Title 67, Chapter 450, of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Regulations (Established Sound Levels).
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 fifteen (15) minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion, anywhere within one hundred fifty (150) feet of any residence, in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property line (boundary).
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.
Prima facie violation. The noise from any of the aforesaid prohibited acts that disturbs two (2) 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.
Maximum permissible sound levels by zoning districts. No person shall operate or cause to be operated any source of sound in such a manner as to create a sound level which exceeds the limits set forth in the zoning designations category in Table I hereof when measured at or across the property line (boundary) from the noise source. Any sound source that produces sound in excess of those levels shall constitute a noise disturbance.
When exceeded. The sound-level limits set forth in Subsection A, Table I, hereof shall be exceeded when any one (1) or more, of the following occur:
The sound at any one (1) point in time exceeds any of the established zone limits in Subsection A, Table I, hereof by a measured sound level of fifteen (15) dB(A).
The sound exceeds any of the established zone limits in Subsection A, Table I, hereof by a measured sound level of ten (10) dB(A) for a cumulative total of one (1) minute or more out of any ten-minute period.
Ambient sound. In the event that the background ambient sound levels in an area of suspected noise disturbance exceeds the levels set forth in Subsection A, Table I, hereof, the sound level of the intrusive sound source shall be measured with the ambient background sound level being substituted as the Table I sound-level limit.
Where measured. For the purposes of this section, sound shall be measured at or beyond the property line (boundary) of the property on which the noise source is located.
Pure tone and impulsive sound. For any source of sound which emits a pure tone or impulsive sound, the limits set forth in Subsection A, Table I, hereof shall be reduced by five (5) dB(A).
Adjustment for nonconforming uses. Any noise which occurs on property which, according to Chapter 224, Zoning, is being used in a legally nonconforming manner and which noise relates to such use shall be judged as if the property bore a zoning designation under which the use would be conforming.
Measuring instruments. All sound measurements shall be made on a sound-level meter calibrated in the manner required by the manufacturer's specifications.
The following sounds are exempted from the provisions of this chapter:
Amplified announcements. Electronically amplified announcements at athletic events.
Blasting. Blasting under permit, 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.
Concerts, etc. Band concerts, block parties, church carnivals or other performances or similar activities publicly or privately sponsored and presented in any public or private space outdoors, provided that:
Emergency work. Sounds caused by the performance of emergency work or by the ordinary and accepted use of emergency apparatus and equipment.
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.
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 motor vehicle racing events.
Warning devices. Sounds made by warning devices operating continuously for three (3) minutes or less, except that, in the event of an actual emergency, the time limitation shall not apply.
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.
Application. The application shall state the standard, provisions 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.
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 (3) 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.
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.
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:
The physical characteristics of the emitted sound.
The times and duration of the emitted sound.
The geography, zone and population density of the affected area.
Whether the public health and safety is endangered.
Whether the sound source predates the receiver(s).
Whether compliance with the standard(s) from which the variance is sought would produce hardship without equal or greater benefit to the public.
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 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 (1) year. The person obtaining the variance may reapply for additional variance periods under terms set forth by the applicant and the Board.
Appeals. Appeal from an adverse decision of the Board shall be made to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.
Special variances. The Chief of Police or his or her designee may, upon application and guided by the standards for review set forth in Subsection A(5) hereof, grant special variances for infrequent events or activities which do not exceed twenty-four (24) hours in duration. 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.
Noise Control Board. The Noise Control Board, for the purposes of this chapter, shall be the Zoning Hearing Board, which Board shall have full authority to carry out the duties of the Noise Control Board, as set forth in this chapter. All applications to the Board shall be filed through the Zoning Officer and shall be accompanied by an application fee as provided in Chapter 108, Fees. The hearing shall be held not more than thirty (30) days following the filing of the application and the decision thereon rendered within forty-five (45) days of the last hearing in the case before the Board.
This chapter shall be enforced by the City of Coatesville Police Department.
Any person or persons violating the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction in summary proceedings, pay a fine of not more than six hundred dollars ($600.) or a period of imprisonment not exceeding ninety (90) days, or both such fine and imprisonment, for each offense, to be collected as other fines and costs are by law collectible. Each day during which a continuing violation occurs shall constitute a separate offense.
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.