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Proposed law would restrict noise in Berkeley County

October 14, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Tired of your neighbor blaring a stereo, riding around on an ATV with no muffler or holding loud parties?

A noise ordinance proposed by the Berkeley County Commission would limit the amount of noise people are allowed to make, and would restrict noise levels in residential areas even more from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for the County Commission's evening meeting Nov. 3.

The ordinance, crafted by county attorney Norwood Bentley, would prohibit noise levels above 60 decibels for residential areas, 65 decibels by commercial businesses and in offices, and noise levels above 70 decibels produced by industrial companies.

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The acceptable levels would be lowered by 5 decibels during overnight hours, according to a draft copy of the ordinance.

Sixty decibels is equivalent to the sound produced by conversation in a restaurant or background music, while a vacuum cleaner produces noise levels of around 70 decibels, according to information on Temple University's Web site.

Earlier this year, the Jefferson County Commission passed a noise ordinance that made it illegal to make noise louder than 65 decibels. That law went into effect Aug. 1.

Jefferson County exempted noise created by emergency vehicles, alarms, sounds from a place of worship, airports, railroads and sporting events.

Deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department would be responsible for enforcing the proposed noise ordinance. Noise levels would be checked using an approved, calibrated sound level meter, according to the ordinance.

A person who violates the ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would have to pay a fine. Commissioner Howard Strauss suggested the fine be the same as for those who are found guilty of violating the county's barking dog ordinance - $100 for a first offense and up to $250 for subsequent offenses.

County Commissioner Steve Teufel said the ordinance likely will be revised over the next couple of months before taking effect.

Over the last few years the commissioners have passed several ordinances, including a vicious dog ordinance, an ordinance attempting to control ATV usage on public roads and an ordinance controlling the location of adult-oriented businesses.

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