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Woodstock City Council approves noise control regulation

Some expressed concern over "subjective" nature of noise

Woodstock City Council meets during a scheduled public meeting on May 7 in Woodstock.
Woodstock City Council meets during a scheduled public meeting on May 7 in Woodstock.

Woodstock City Council has approved a noise control ordinance after months of discussion.

The council in March discussed establishing a noise ordinance that would set decibel level limits for noise during certain hours. The conversation began after residents raised concerns about loud music that they said they can hear from their neighborhoods. Niko’s Red Mill Tavern, 1040 Lake Ave., and Kingston Lanes, 1330 S. Eastwood Drive, were named as the primary sources of the noise.

Niko Kanakaris, who owns the tavern, is working with a sound engineer to build a barrier to reduce noise from loud events before next summer.

The discussion prompted the city to document noise levels throughout the city in an effort to set reasonable limits during certain hours. Woodstock’s Police Department on average respond to 349 noise-related complaints annually, according to city documents.

The recently approved ordinance limits noise from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“Considering the average readings that the [police] took ... one could reasonably deduce that the Woodstock community is, overall, frequently, in a relatively “comfortable” zone when it comes to noise,” Police Chief John Lieb wrote in a memo to the council.

Lieb said the ordinance was an attempt to achieve “balance” between those who create noise at night and those who want quiet.

The ordinance lists four types of property uses and each property type has a different noise limit. Different property types include A) single-family homes, B) apartments, churches, schools, medical facilities and motels, C) retail, gas stations, bars and restaurants and D) manufacturing businesses, event venues, railroads and other transportation uses.

Decibel limits between 6 and 11 p.m. begin at 10 decibels, which is lower than a whisper, not to exceed up to
75 decibels depending on the type of property. Type A properties can’t exceed 60 decibels whereas types C and D can’t exceed 75 decibels, for example. The limit for Type B properties is
65 decibels, under the ordinance.

The limits are further restricted and not to exceed between 55 to 75 decibels, depending on property type, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., under the ordinance.

There are exemptions for HVAC equipment, emergency work, public events and snow removal, under the ordinance.

“There is a lot of complexity here,” Mayor Brian Sager said. “There are a lot of factors that go into it. This ordinance provides us a foundation.”

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