The City Council approved a draft Tuesday of a noise ordinance some residents have been requesting for years.
The ordinance would set decibel limits at certain times for establishments in both residential and commercial zones.
The noise limit in residential zones would be 65 decibels until 10 p.m. every day. After 10 p.m., the limit would drop to 55 decibels.
The limit in commercial zones would be 85 decibels until 10 p.m. daily, then decrease to 75 decibels after 10 p.m.
If someone makes a noise complaint, decibel readings would be taken outside at the complainant’s property line.
The draft ordinance also deals with businesses that are near residential zones. Any commercial property that is in a commercial zone but within 20 feet of a residence would be required to adhere to the residential zone noise levels.
The ordinance is not final. The council’s action Tuesday requires the draft be posted on the city’s website for public feedback until noon March 17. The council will then make any final changes it deems necessary and hold a vote to adopt the ordinance at the March 21 meeting.
The two-week delay came over the disapproval of Councilman Doug Seal, who said the council has been discussing noise ordinances since 2009 without taking any real action.
“We’ve been kicking this can down the road for too long,” he said, adding he wanted to adopt the draft as the final ordinance.
Noise complaints, primarily from residents in the Depot District, were a hot topic several months ago, as residents lined up at several consecutive council meetings to complain.
The bar and tavern owners initially came to defend their businesses but with only a handful of them, they were quickly out-voiced by the complaining residents.
City attorney Trent Favre discovered in December the city had a noise ordinance on the books, but the council decided a new law was needed because the existing one was ambiguous in some areas.
The council changed the draft before approving it at Tuesday’s meeting, slightly increasing each of the noise limits at the request of Councilman Joey Boudin, who said the limits seemed too low.
“That rain out there is probably at 70 (decibels),” he said, referring to a flash thunderstorm that began midway through the meeting.