The city’s peace disturbance ordinance will remain as it’s currently written.
The Parks, Buildings, Development and Public Service Committee last week discussed the ordinance after it was brought up several weeks ago by an alderman.
In terms of noise, the current peace disturbance ordinance says a person commits the offense of a peace disturbance if he or she unreasonably and knowingly disturbs or alarms another person by loud noises.
City Administrator Russell Rost noted that there are many common activities that exceed what are considered normal decibel levels.
Police Chief Norman Brune said that to apply a maximum decibel level would require measuring the noise at varying distances.
“If you’re going to apply a decibel level for a distance from a person or object creating the noise, you would have to do it for construction equipment, vehicles, music, everything,” Brune said. “You would have to designate times, locations and where it is or isn’t acceptable.”
Brune said that under the current ordinance, a noise has to be “unreasonable.”
“We use common sense as to whether a particular noise or amount of noise is reasonable,” Brune said.
The day of the week and time of day also are considered in whether a noise level is reasonable.
“If we have a question or we think it may be unreasonable, we can issue a summons and it can be discussed in court or the prosecutor can decide whether or not to issue the charge,” the police chief said.
A summons is not an official charge, but requires the person to appear before a judge.
Brune said the department doesn’t receive a lot of noise complaints. The topic came up in reference to a bar allowing outdoor music.
However, the owner has been cooperative in trying to maintain a reasonable level of noise, Rost said, including installing a fence as a noise barrier, turning speakers differently and complying if they’re asked to turn it down.
Brune said there are checks and balances to address complaints in a fair manner.
“The best way to word (the ordinance) is exactly as we have it,” Brune said. “It would be very difficult to handle in any other manner.”
He added that changing the ordinance is not necessary and has been “working pretty well as long as I have been a police officer.”