By Tia Lynn Ivey
Madison Councilman Eric Joyce wants city police to step up noise ordinance enforcement, particularly to crackdown on noise from loud cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
Joyce originally sought to completely overhaul the City’s noise ordinance, but after researching how surrounding cities handle noise complaints, Joyce believes Madison’s ordinance only needs a little tweaking to empower local law enforcement to deter disruptive, excessive noise.
“Changing the ordinance is not quite as important as the desire to enforce the regulations we already have,” said Joyce at the last City Council work session, on Friday, Mar. 1.
Joyce previously wanted to make the current noise ordinance more specific by adding a 78 decibel limit to set a concrete standard for law enforcement measure and punish noise violations on loud vehicles. However, after Joyce looked into Covington’s decibel clause, he discovered the standard is still rarely enforced.
“It turned out to be a somewhat disappointing experience,” said Joyce.
Now, Joyce believes the city should adopt a mission statement regarding excessive noise as a “quality of life” issue to ramp up the priority local law enforcement places on noise violations.
The current wording of the ordinance leaves a generous amount of discretion for law enforcement officer to determine what constitutes as a noise violation.
“The following may be declared to be nuisances…unreasonably loud automative, truck. or motorcycle or exhaust noise particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.,” reads the ordinance.
Joyce wants to add language less vague language, as well, as a mission statement.
“Our ordinance lacks any kind of mission statement dedicated to protecting the peace and tranquility of our citizens,” said Joyce. “I would like to see something put together that includes that.”
Joyce noted that manpower may be the biggest obstacle to ramping up enforcement of the noise ordinance.
“I don’t know that we have the tools in our ordinance to allow Chief Ashburn’s department to really effectively to enforce that concept,” said Joyce. “I don’t know how to run a police department. We have all of these challenges with the size of the police department that we do have, I don’t want to be too presumptuous in how we should be allocating all our man power…I do not want to take away our abilities to fight crime, but I do think we need to increase the prioritization of this as a quality of life issue for our citizens.”
Joyce noted that during his campaign for the Madison City Council, many residents in his district repeatedly expressed complaints over noise related to traffic.
“I believe this reflects a much wider general feeling among our citizenry that we have a problem with traffic and the relating noise that comes with it,” said Joyce. “We live in a relatively crime-free environment here and I think quality of life issues to be enforced by our police department becomes really important, said Joyce.
Councilman Joe DiLetto supported Joyce’s push for tweaking the noise ordinance, but also wanted to maintain a level of discretion for law enforcement officers.
“I agree with you that at least the language can be fortified so that you can enforce it,” said DiLetto.
“ I don’t necessarily want more tickets, I just want less noisy cars,” added Joyce.