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FARMINGTON -- The City Council suspended the rules Monday to adopt in one meeting a noise ordinance to prohibit sounds that injure or endanger the comfort, repose and peace of others.

Council members also approved an emergency clause so the new ordinance would become effective as soon as it is published.

The ordinance is the result of complaints by neighbors on Pine Meadows Drive about loud music on Sunday mornings coming from Brand New Church, located at 271 W. Main St.

Police have received about 30 complaints about loud music since last summer, according to reports. In May, several neighbors asked the council to approve a noise ordinance.

Farmington police have cited two church members in connection with disorderly conduct because of the complaints and loud music. Senior Pastor Shannon O'Dell was cited with disorderly conduct on May 26, June 2 and June 9. Campus director Jeremy Woody was cited May 30.

Police have said a citation of disorderly conduct was used because Farmington did not have a noise ordinance.

City Attorney Steve Tennant told council members Farmington's ordinance is based on scientific standards of sound intensity and frequency.

"We're doing it in a scientific fashion," Tennant said, noting the ordinance is not subjective and not based on whether someone thinks the noise is loud.

The ordinance does not apply to what's considered "harmful noise," Tennant said but noise that interferes with someone's comfort and repose, which means peace and rest.

"To me, it will stand constitutional muster. That's my concern. I'm good with it," Tennant said. "And we'll see what happens. People wanted it. Now, it's going to be tested."

Police Chief Brian Hubbard said he supports the ordinance and the police department already has an instrument to measure sound. Hubbard noted the ordinance covers all of the city, not one area.

Hubbard said he believes an ordinance based on sound measurements is important, especially for today's modern music, versus old ordinances that just monitored "loud music."

Hubbard said today's music has a lot of bass, "and we've got to be able to monitor that as well. Now, we can."

The ordinance provides sound measurements allowed during certain time periods and in zoning categories. It does not apply to sounds that are the result of emergency situations, athletic or school related events or events sponsored by the city of Farmington.

For example, for all residential zones, maximum noise levels will be 60 dB(A) or 75 dB(C) from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The measurement would take place at the boundary of the property from which the "sound or noise is emanating."

Council members had questions about how the ordinance would apply in certain situations and Hubbard reminded them the ordinance is complaint driven.

"Everyone is under the assumption I'll be monitoring noise levels on everything in Farmington. I'll be a wounded bird. I'm not going there," Hubbard said. "This is a complaint driven type deal. I have something that's enforceable on the complaints."

Tennant said he and assistant city attorney Jay Moore looked at many ordinances and other information in their research for the city's noise ordinance.

"This gets us started for what we know we're going to be dealing with," Tennant said, adding the ordinance can be amended in the future if needed.

During the public comment period on the proposal, O'Dell addressed the council and thanked them for "defining lines" with an ordinance.

"We're very grateful," O'Dell said. "We've done the decibel readings and they are going to allow us to be successful. We're very, very grateful for that."

Melissa Branch, who has complained many times about the loud church music, told the council she did not have anything against one person or one congregation.

"It's just about what's best for my house and the rest of the houses on this street. That's it. That's all I'm asking for," Branch said.

As she approached the podium, Branch turned to O'Dell and told him, "Shannon, thank you very much for Sunday's service. It was perfect. I didn't hear anything and it was perfect."

Branch did not have a copy of the ordinance and had not seen it so she said she did not know how it would apply in her situation. She said her back door is 200 feet from the back of the church building.

She pointed out the World Health Organization has said about 50 decibels is moderately too loud for someone with normal hearing.

Like O'Dell, Branch thanked the city for its work on an ordinance and on her behalf.

General News on 07/10/2019

Print Headline: Farmington Adopts Noise Ordinance

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