Chambersburg adopts noise ordinance

April 25, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The chimes of ice cream trucks will not be stifled under a new noise ordinance adopted Monday night by the Chambersburg Borough Council, but the owners of car stereos capable of rattling windows and eardrums as they pass could face a $50 fine for a violation.

The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which takes effect immediately, the one change being an exclusion specifically for ice cream trucks under "routine and customary ringing of bells and chimes."

The ordinance includes seven specific prohibitions, including the operation of any radio or similar device from a motor vehicle that amplifies sound to a point "as to be plainly audible or felt" at a distance of 100 feet.

"Are we the noise Gestapo or are we going to make a reasonable attempt to solve a problem?" Council President William McLaughlin asked rhetorically before the vote. Police officers, he said, would use their professional judgment and common sense in enforcing the ordinance.


McLaughlin said it could take a while before the implications of the ordinance are fully realized by the "thick-headed individuals blasting their boom boxes and boom vehicles at 150 decibels."

The noise ordinance also covers noisy cats, birds and other pets except for barking dogs, which are covered by a separate ordinance. It also covers alarms and vehicle horns for anything but testing and their normal intended uses; prohibits the sale of "anything by outcry" except at licensed sporting events and entertainment events; and noisy mechanical devices, such as poorly maintained air-conditioners.

It establishes a "quiet period" during which some irksome noises are prohibited. The periods are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday and weekdays; 11 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday; and 11 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.

Among the prohibitions during quiet periods are loading and unloading of vehicles in residential areas, operation of construction or other loud equipment, chain saws, log chippers or model aircraft. It also restricts loud music, yelling, shouting, singing or whistling if plainly audible or felt across a property line or in an adjacent dwelling, or which "disturbs the quiet, comfort or repose" of people.

"Citizens need to let police know where the hot spots are," said Wade Burkholder, who has long supported a noise ordinance. As recently as 11 p.m. Sunday, he said he had to go to a car wash near his home to ask someone to turn down a car stereo.

Planes, trains, emergency vehicles, emergency work, noise from sporting events and festivals and some other borough and school district operations are among the exemptions listed in the ordinance.

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