DADE CITY — The City Commission approved a new noise ordinance Tuesday evening that will make it easier to prosecute violators.
The ordinance was written to limit "the making and creation of excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noises within limits of the city." It revises ordinances written in 1956 and 1973, which City Attorney Karla Owens has described as impossible to enforce.
Owens said the city has received 52 noise complaints from residents since Jan. 1. Owens also said the new ordinance was not written to focus on a specific organization or business, and that she did not think it would be appropriate for enforcement officers to test for noise violations unless a complaint was filed.
For residential areas, sounds measuring at or less than 60 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and at or less than 55 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. will be permitted. The levels will be measured from the closest adjacent property line.
The noise ordinance includes exceptions for emergency signals (such as horns and sirens) and the ability to file for a waiver from the commission for other exceptions. Cultural, historical and community events and educational activities during school hours are also exempt.
The ordinance would prohibit noise pollution, including limits on sound provided by instruments, drums, radios, televisions and other audio visual equipment. It also limits loading, unloading, opening, and otherwise making noise with garbage cans and similar containers between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and limits the decibel level of construction work in residential areas from 10 p.m to 7 a.m.
Mayor Scott Black said he wants city and county staff to meet once the ordinance is in place to make decisions over noise violations that cross shared borders between the city and county.
Owens said the way the new ordinance is written, the city could cite violators outside the city limits if the noise they send into the city exceeds the acceptable amount.
Commission member Curtis Beebe said he had reservations about prosecuting county residents.
Owens said prosecution was a matter of controlling light and sound that travel into the city and noise complaints against county residents and businesses should be investigated.
"Light can actually trespass and so can sound," Owens said.
"It doesn't mean that we have to go and get into the county's Wheaties on this," Beebe said.
The city already has a noise meter, but Dade City police officers would need to take a class for certification to use them.