• July 30, 2016

Noise ordinance only works when people report violations

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Posted: Sunday, June 28, 2009 12:00 pm

By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

City Attorney Kathy Davis said the loud noise ordinance in place is very good; it carries established guidelines for identifying violations that mimic the ruling by the Supreme Court.

It provides criteria for a volume threshold and a sound vibration threshold. But it also provides a great deal of latitude interpreting what constitutes a violation.

That's in place because making an accusation, and even issuing a citation, can be challenged in court; witnesses can paint a much better picture than a number.

Davis said the lack of involvement by those complaining represents the single greatest hurdle to improving enforcement of the ordinance. Without improved cooperation, there is very little that can be gained, no matter what changes are put in place, she said.

"They will have to come in and make themselves part of the process," Davis said. "There's not going to be a magic fix."

The ordinance does establish two measurable ways that constitute a violation: sound level and vibration level.

If the sound is causing perceptual vibrations 50 feet away or more, it's a violation.

If the sound exceeds 60 decibels from the property line, it constitutes a violation in most cases. The police do have access to measuring equipment.

The ordinance provides a number of exceptions, given situation and circumstance, such as requiring a warning be issued first to a gathering of people before any citations or arrests occur.

But in most situations, a violation is determined by perceptions of a reasonable person given the circumstances.

The ordinance states that it is "unlawful to create … an unreasonable noise which, by its manner, volume, intensity or duration is such as to annoy, distress or disturb the comfort of any reasonable person of ordinary nervous sensibilities."

Contact Justin Cox at jcox@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568.

Tired of the noise? File a complaint

For noise violations occurring at private residences, contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 501-8800.

The procedure for making a noise violation complaint for any business, or at a site where machinery is causing a nuisance, can be handled in the daytime by the office of the building official, call (254) 501-7605.

For all noise violations, enforcement officers strongly encourage those reporting to leave a name and contact number so that they may be reached in the future, should the violation be challenged in court. It's also recommended that the reporting party document the dates and times of violations, and the circumstances surrounding it.

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