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Town adopts new noise ordinance

Pulaski Town Council adopted a new noise ordinance this week despite concern by one councilman that it could make it unlawful for people to do things the town encourages, such as mowing lawns.
Mayor Jeff Worrell and Town Manager John Hawley stressed that the town police will use common sense in enforcement of the ordinance and not cite someone for mowing a lawn. Besides, Worrell pointed out, council can always amend the ordinance later if it is causing problems.
“I don’t think we should prohibit something now, with the intention of un-prohibiting it later,” Councilman Morgan Welker said before voting against the ordinance as drafted.
Also dissenting was Councilman Joel Burchett Jr.
Earlier, Welker made a motion to adopt the draft noise ordinance presented by the staff. However, he included in the motion a list of additions and alterations that he had suggested in an email to his colleagues prior to the meeting.
When that motion died for lack of a second, Vice Mayor David Clark moved to adopt the ordinance as written.
Worrell agreed with Clark’s that the proposal would work until a better solution is found, noting that it would give the police something to work with in the meantime.
The ordinance is being revamped due to a Supreme Court ruling that essentially invalidated noise ordinances across the state. As a result of that ruling, Town Attorney David Warburton said Pulaski has an ordinance it “can’t enforce and shouldn’t try to enforce.”
Warburton said a state group already is working on developing an ordinance that could be used in any locality throughout the Commonwealth. He estimated that solution could be ready in six months or so.
“In give or take six months, there will be a proposed ordinance (that could be used in place of the ordinance passed Tuesday),” Clark said. “I don’t see where we’re gaining a lot hammering out issues tonight when the chief (Pulaski Police Chief Gary Roche) and his men” can work out any issues with the adopted ordinance in the meantime.
The ordinance adopted Tuesday makes it unlawful to “create or continue any sound, whether from a stationary source or a mobile source, that is audible without mechanical assistance at the property boundaries of any parcel or lot, or in excess of 25 feet of the source.”
Welker was concerned that the wording of the ordinance would be essentially discouraging people from mowing or maintaining their properties because the sound of lawnmowers and hammering could be heard beyond 25 feet. Plus, he said, the normal sound of a vehicle passing on the road would violate the ordinance.
As a result, he suggested the words "before 9 a.m. or after 10 p.m." be added.
“This will allow people to do things that have to be done that make noise during the day.”
To address the normal noise from vehicles, Welker proposed adding: "Sounds produced by the engine, exhaust, drive train, or tires of a moped or currently registered motor vehicle, in proper maintenance, and being operated correctly in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Code of Virginia."
He noted that the language he proposed would still allow police to cite motorists for loud car stereos and horns.
Under the ordinance that passed, exempted noises include, bells or chimes from houses of worship, clocks or schools; factory whistles or sirens; lawful parades; school activities on school grounds, locomotive bells, whistles or horns; alert sounds to notify others of peril or need for caution; and events sponsored or co-sponsored by the town.

Violations of the ordinance, if convicted in court, carries a sentence of 10 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Each day a violation occurs is considered a separate offense.

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Town adopts new noise ordinance

Pulaski Town Council adopted a new noise ordinance this week despite concern by one councilman that it could make it unlawful for people to do things the town encourages, such as mowing lawns.
Mayor Jeff Worrell and Town Manager John Hawley stressed that the town police will use common sense in enforcement of the ordinance and not cite someone for mowing a lawn. Besides, Worrell pointed out, council can always amend the ordinance later if it is causing problems.
“I don’t think we should prohibit something now, with the intention of un-prohibiting it later,” Councilman Morgan Welker said before voting against the ordinance as drafted.
Also dissenting was Councilman Joel Burchett Jr.
Earlier, Welker made a motion to adopt the draft noise ordinance presented by the staff. However, he included in the motion a list of additions and alterations that he had suggested in an email to his colleagues prior to the meeting.
When that motion died for lack of a second, Vice Mayor David Clark moved to adopt the ordinance as written.
Worrell agreed with Clark’s that the proposal would work until a better solution is found, noting that it would give the police something to work with in the meantime.
The ordinance is being revamped due to a Supreme Court ruling that essentially invalidated noise ordinances across the state. As a result of that ruling, Town Attorney David Warburton said Pulaski has an ordinance it “can’t enforce and shouldn’t try to enforce.”
Warburton said a state group already is working on developing an ordinance that could be used in any locality throughout the Commonwealth. He estimated that solution could be ready in six months or so.
“In give or take six months, there will be a proposed ordinance (that could be used in place of the ordinance passed Tuesday),” Clark said. “I don’t see where we’re gaining a lot hammering out issues tonight when the chief (Pulaski Police Chief Gary Roche) and his men” can work out any issues with the adopted ordinance in the meantime.
The ordinance adopted Tuesday makes it unlawful to “create or continue any sound, whether from a stationary source or a mobile source, that is audible without mechanical assistance at the property boundaries of any parcel or lot, or in excess of 25 feet of the source.”
Welker was concerned that the wording of the ordinance would be essentially discouraging people from mowing or maintaining their properties because the sound of lawnmowers and hammering could be heard beyond 25 feet. Plus, he said, the normal sound of a vehicle passing on the road would violate the ordinance.
As a result, he suggested the words "before 9 a.m. or after 10 p.m." be added.
“This will allow people to do things that have to be done that make noise during the day.”
To address the normal noise from vehicles, Welker proposed adding: "Sounds produced by the engine, exhaust, drive train, or tires of a moped or currently registered motor vehicle, in proper maintenance, and being operated correctly in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Code of Virginia."
He noted that the language he proposed would still allow police to cite motorists for loud car stereos and horns.
Under the ordinance that passed, exempted noises include, bells or chimes from houses of worship, clocks or schools; factory whistles or sirens; lawful parades; school activities on school grounds, locomotive bells, whistles or horns; alert sounds to notify others of peril or need for caution; and events sponsored or co-sponsored by the town.

Violations of the ordinance, if convicted in court, carries a sentence of 10 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Each day a violation occurs is considered a separate offense.

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