City Council Presents Potential Ordinance To Address Noise Level Downtown

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Members of the Chattanooga City Council presented a potential ordinance to address concerns about the noise level downtown. If passed, the ordinance will put limits on both dB(A) and dB(C) levels of sound.

It was noted, "When we compare our dB level, it is clear that Chattanooga is lower than Nashville and Knoxville." However, this comparison only takes dB(A) levels into consideration.

It was said during the presentation, "While you can sense or hear the dB(A)s, you're probably going to feel the dB(C)s.

Councilman Jerry Mitchell said, "That is generally the basses that are causing those vibrations...The only way we can regulate those types of annoyances is to use the dB(C) scale."

The ordinance would also require businesses wanting to feature entertainment to acquire a permit, which would have to be renewed annually. A new board, the Board of Controlled Sound Boundaries Permit Appeal, would be created. 

Once a permit is issued, businesses and residences within 300 feet will be notified.

The current codes take the sound measurement at the residential line. However, the new code would take the measurement at the line of property of the business. 

City Attorney Wade Hinton noted that the ordinance does allow for review after a year. At that point, the council would decide if it had worked sufficiently or not.

Many people came to the public hearing in support of the ordinance, including the director of the Camp House, Matt Busby. 

Mr. Busby said, "I'm really in favor of this new ordinance because it will help guide the growth of our city over the next 10 and 20 years."

He said the ordinance would help developers build more appropriately, giving the example of including more sound proofing in the construction of homes located near the defined areas. 

He said, "The way the current ordinance stands, I don't think it's doing anybody any good."

Resident of Jefferson Heights Michael Walker said he supported the ordinance because it would help cut down on police time spent on noise violations. 

He said, "My concern here is safety."

Others asked for the area affected by the ordinance to be expanded to include its businesses on nearby streets, such as Crash Pad and Flying Squirrel. 

Councilwoman Carol Berz said she wanted it to be on the record that "this is for a downtown entertainment district. This is not a prototype for other districts."

It was emphasized, "Areas used for entertainment are the only ones that will be covered by the provisions today." 

Specifically, from Monday to Thursday, the dB(A) level would be 55 from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the dB(A) level limit would be 80 and the dB(C) limit would be 95. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., the dB(A) limit would be 65 and the dB(C) limit would be 80.

On Friday to Sunday, the dB(A) level limit would be 55 from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., the dB(A) limit would be 80 and the dB(C) limit would be 95. From 12 a.m. to 3 a.m., the dB(A) limit would be 65 and the dB(C) limit would be 80.

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