New Noise Ordinance Proposed in Jefferson City Could Quiet Outdoor Music

JEFFERSON CITY - A new noise ordinance in Jefferson City is up for public hearing Monday evening at the Jefferson City Council Meeting. The new ordinance would require all businesses to stay below 85 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. After 10 p.m., businesses would have to stay below 80 decibels.

Regular street performers like Alex Starr and Jay Neilson on High Street in Jefferson City could have to tone the volume down if the ordinance is passed.

"I don't believe in censorship and limiting sound in a public place is censorship, especially if you're guys like us just playing music" Nielsen said. "But I have a child, and I understand that during the evening it is not okay to have loud noises while children are sleeping."

Decibel measurements are not included in the noise ordinance in effect now in Jefferson City. It is a matter of judgment of the law enforcement official as to whether the noise is loud enough to be regimented. Steam whistles, streetcars and phonographs are listed on the noise ordinance currently in effect, which, to some, can be perceived as being outdated.

Fifth ward City Council Representative Ralph Bray believes the ordinance is just another good step in the community moving forward, noting it will only help enforce noise ordinance issues within city limits.

"We are getting a lot more live music and outdoor music in Jefferson City now, quite a bit. We're getting residents where we didn't have them before," Bray said. "We have commercial buildings going into residential areas like never before. With this noise ordinance, we should be prepared to deal with these growing pains."

Jefferson City Director of Public Works Roger Schwartze purchased a tool to measure decibel levels and walked throughout the city to record normal sound levels. Schwartze did this to come up with limitations on decibels for the city.

According to his measurements, a car driving on McCarty Street from 25 feet away measures at approximately 70 decibels. A truck back up alarm measures at 83 decibels from 50 feet away. A Thursday night live band measures at 96 decibels from 150 feet away.

"That's why we are setting the decibel level at a maximum of 85 for a commercial area," Schwartze said. "Because when you go out and listen to some of the sounds we already have that are normal for the city, some of them get up into an 80 to 82 level."

Unlike Starr and Nielsen, Jefferson City resident Audrey Smollen believes the new noise ordinance isn't doing enough to enforce loud music in residential areas.

"It's just unnsecessary to have a decibel level that loud allowed in a commercial area that sits so close to residents," Smollen said. "I think the city council should look and compare it more to other ordinances in other cities and get it in line with them."

The Jefferson City Council will vote on the ordinance Oct. 15. If the majority of the ten city council members approve of the new ordinance, it will go into affect as soon as soon as Jefferson City Mayor Eric Struemph signs the new ordinance.

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