City of Altoona, PA
Blair County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Altoona 6-27-2007 by Ord. No. 5568. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Board of Appeals — See Ch. 11.
Animal nuisance noise — See § 184-12.
Construction standards — See Ch. 270.
Planning — See Ch. 535.

§ 470-1 Purpose and scope.

It is the purpose and scope of this chapter to provide regulations defining the maximum sound levels that vehicles, appliances and equipment shall be allowed to produce at specified distances from these devices and also to provide for the prohibition of other kinds of prohibited noises. These regulations and prohibitions are intended to protect the physical, mental and social well-being of the residents of the City of Altoona and to foster mutual respect among residents with regard to living and working environments being free of noise pollution.

§ 470-2 Applicability.

A. 
This chapter shall apply:
(1) 
To all types of appliances and equipment, whether privately or publicly owned.
(2) 
To sounds of any time duration.
(3) 
To both the owner and operator of appliances, equipment, devices or any other object creating noises.
B. 
The provisions of this chapter are not intended to interfere with, abrogate or annul other rules, regulations or ordinances, including Title 18 (Crimes Code) and Title 75 (Vehicle Code), Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. If more stringent requirements concerning noise abatement are contained in the other rules, regulations or ordinances, the more stringent regulation shall apply.

§ 470-3 Exemptions.

The following devices are exempt from the provisions of these regulations:
A. 
Aircraft (except model aircraft).
B. 
Police, fire, ambulance and other governmental emergency vehicles.
C. 
Backup alarm devices on trucks and other equipment when installed and operated in accordance with Society of Automotive Engineers recommended practice J 994, "Criteria for Back-Up Alarm Devices."
D. 
Governmental warning devices (i.e., civil defense and fire siren).
E. 
The provision, repair and maintenance of municipal services or public utilities.
F. 
Bells, chimes and carillons used for religious purposes or in conjunction with national celebrations or public holidays; existing bells, chimes and carillons that are currently in use for any purpose.
G. 
Appliances, lawn and garden equipment, and household power tools in use between the hours of 7:00 a.m. (prevailing time) and 9:00 p.m. (prevailing time), provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and with all standard noise-reducing equipment in use, unmodified, and in proper operating condition.
H. 
Air conditioners, fans, heating units and similar devices, provided such are operated within the manufacturer's specifications and reasonable measures are taken to reduce noise levels as approved by the Noise Enforcement Officer.
I. 
Motor vehicles regulated by other rules, regulations or ordinances.
J. 
Musical, recreational and athletic events conducted by schools or local government.
K. 
Activities permitted by special waiver, as provided herein, according to the terms and conditions of said waiver; activities conducted in accordance with a special activity permit approved by the City Manager.

§ 470-4 Definitions.

All acoustical terminology shall be that contained in ANSI S1.1 "Acoustical Terminology." All other words not defined herein shall be used with a meaning of standard usage. Words used in the present tense include the future tense; the singular number includes the plural and the plural number includes the singular; words of masculine gender include feminine gender and words of feminine gender include masculine gender; the word "includes" or "including" shall not limit the term to the specific example but is intended to extend its meaning to all other instances of like kind and character; the words "shall" and "must" are mandatory; the words "may" and "should" are permissive; the words "used" or "occupied" include the words "intended, designed, maintained or arranged to be used or occupied."
ANSI
American National Standards Institute or its successors.
APPLIANCE
Any device or combination of devices used or capable of being used as a means of accomplishing a desired end, such as a window air-conditioning unit.
DAY
The twenty-four-hour period starting at local midnight.
DAYTIME
From October 1 to March 31, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and from April 1 to September 30, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
DECIBEL (dB)
A unit of sound level which is a division of logarithmic scale used to express the ratio of the sound intensity of the source of the intensity of arbitrarily chosen reference intensity. The ratio is expressed on the decibel scale by multiplying its base ten logarithm by 10.
EQUIPMENT
Any devices or combination of devices to accomplish a desired end, such as a chainsaw, bulldozer, etc.
EXCESSIVE NOISE
That sound which is:
A. 
Injurious or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property. Measured noise levels in excess of limits established in these regulations or those specified in valid permits are declared to be excessive noises.
B. 
Annoying to a person of ordinary sensibilities.
FLUCTUATING NOISE
A noise whose sound level varies significantly with time.
IMPULSIVE NOISE
Characterized by brief excursions of sound level. The duration of a single impulse is usually less than one second.
INTERMITTENT NOISE
A noise whose sound level exceeds the ambient noise levels at least twice during the period of observation, which is one minute or more. The period of time during which the level of the noise remains at an essentially constant value different from that of the ambient is on the order of one second or more.
NOISE
Any sound emitted by a person, animal, vehicle, appliance, equipment or other device and its environmental interaction.
ORDINANCE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
Any person appointed by the City of Altoona with responsibility to enforce municipal ordinances and/or any sworn member of the City of Altoona Police Department.
PARTY
A social gathering.
PERIOD OF OBSERVATION
The time interval during which acoustical data are obtained. The period of observation is determined by the characteristics of the noise being measured and the instrumentation being used. The period of observation must be at least as long as the response time of the instrumentation. The greater the variance in individual sound level, the longer must be the observation time for a given expected accuracy of measurement.
PERSON
Either the owner or operator of vehicles, appliances, equipment or devices, whether an individual, firm, association, organization, partnership, trust, company, corporation or any other similar entity.
S.A.E.
Society of Automotive Engineers.[1]
SOUND LEVEL (NOISE LEVEL)
Airborne sound levels are expressed in dB and obtained by the use of specific frequency dependent weighing networks, as specified in the referenced standards. The specific weighing network used must be indicated by the proper notation. If A-weighing is employed, the sound level is identified as dB(A).
SOUND LEVEL METER
A sound level meter is an instrument, or combination of instruments, which meets or exceeds the requirements for an ANSI Type S1A or Type S2A sound level meter.
STEADY NOISE
A noise whose level remains essentially constant (i.e., fluctuations are less than five dB) during the period of observation.
[1]:
Editor's Note: Now known as SAE International.

§ 470-5 Enforcement; violations and penalties.

A. 
Abatement. Any emission of noise from any source in excess of the limitation established in or pursuant to this chapter herein described shall be deemed and is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and may be abated in addition to the administrative proceedings, fines and penalties herein provided. Such abatement may be made by any ordinance enforcement officer, including City of Altoona police officers, and/or may be made by order of the Court of Common Pleas of Blair County on complaint or petition filed on behalf of the City of Altoona.
B. 
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair any cause of action or legal remedy thereof of any person or the public for injury or damage arising from the emission or release into the atmosphere or ground from any source whatever of noise in such place or manner or at such levels which may give rise to such cause of action.
C. 
The Noise Enforcement Officers of the City of Altoona shall:
(1) 
Be qualified by training and experience to perform the necessary measurements and procedures required to determine violations of the provisions of this chapter;
(2) 
File complaints with the Magisterial District Judge to prosecute any violation of this chapter;
(3) 
Investigate complaints of violations of this chapter and make inspections and observations of noise conditions; and
(4) 
May issue a warning to persons considered in violation of these regulations; a warning which may allow an appropriate time not to exceed 30 calendar days for correction to bring the offending vehicle(s), appliance(s), equipment or other device(s) within the provisions of these regulations before enforcement by prosecution.
D. 
Any person, firm or corporation violating any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 90 days, or both. Every day that a violation of the ordinance continues shall constitute a separate offense.[1]
[1]:
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).

§ 470-6 Administration.

The City of Altoona shall:
A. 
Prepare and maintain records of all orders issued by the Noise Enforcement Officers and the Appeals Board;
B. 
Issue all standards, permits, certificates, notices and other matters required under the provisions of this chapter and notify all persons concerned of any decisions rendered and provide such persons with an opportunity to be heard (as herein set forth); and
C. 
Be permitted to issue a temporary waiver from strict compliance with the noise standards specified herein to persons during emergency circumstances, as determined by the City Manager, to permit reasonable time to effect repairs and/or adjustments to equipment, appliances, instruments and other sound-emitting devices which, when in use, exceed the noise level limits, provided that the use of such devices shall be essential to preserve and protect health and safety or to comply with other lawful rules, regulations and ordinances.

§ 470-7 Appeals Board.

All appeals shall be made to the City of Altoona Code Appeals Board as established by Chapter 11, Appeals, Board of, and said Appeals Board shall hear and decide cases regarding interpretations of this chapter and variances for undue hardship situations which may be granted in the sole and absolute discretion of said Appeals Board.

§ 470-8 Noise limitations.

A. 
General. No person shall make, create, permit or cause to be made or created any excessive noise of any kind by crying, calling or shouting, or by means of any whistle, rattle, bell, gong, clapper, hammer, drum, horn, hand organ, mechanically operated piano, other musical instrument, wind instrument, mechanical device, radio, phonograph, sound-amplifying or other similar electronic device unless said person has obtained a permit from the City as provided in Subsection H herein.
B. 
Musical instruments. No person shall use or perform on any hand organ or other musical instrument or device in any public way or public open space of the City of Altoona unless said person has obtained a permit from the City as provided in Subsection H herein.
C. 
Noise from premises. No person owning, or in possession or control of any building or premises, shall use the same, permit the use of the same, or rent the same to be used for any business or employment or residential use, or for any purpose of pleasure or recreation, if such use shall, by its boisterous nature, disturb or destroy the peace of the neighborhood as measured at or about the boundaries of the lot nearest to the source of the alleged violation.
D. 
Equipment noise. It shall be unlawful for any person to use any pile driver, shovel, hammer, derrick, hoist, tractor, roller or other mechanical equipment operated by fuel or electric power in building or construction operations, including but not limited to road construction, from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. of the following day, except as provided herein, unless such equipment has been manufactured or modified for sound control and meets the provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Noise in handling refuse cans. No person shall make any excessive noise in the handling of ash, trash and garbage cans, either in loading or unloading, whether full or empty.
F. 
Noise in vicinity of hospitals, schools and churches. No person shall make any excessive noise in the vicinity of any hospital or church during hours of public worship or school during school hours.
G. 
Noise by peddlers. No peddler or other person who plies a trade or calling of any nature on the streets of the City of Altoona shall use any horn, bell, or other sound instrument to make any noise tending to disturb the peace and quiet of the neighborhood for the purpose of directing attention to his wares, trade or calling.
H. 
Public performances. The operational performance standards established by this chapter shall not apply to any public performance being conducted in accordance with provisions of a permit obtained from the City Manager for the conduct thereof.
I. 
Equipment.
(1) 
No person shall operate any powered equipment or powered hand tool that produces a maximum noise level exceeding the following noise limits at a distance of 50 feet under test procedures established by § 470-10 of this chapter.
Type of Equipment Noise Limit
Construction and industrial machinery, such as crawler-tractors, dozers, rotary drills and augers, loaders, power shovels, cranes, derricks, motor graders, paving machines, off-highway trucks, ditchers, trenchers, compactors, scrapers, pavement breakers, compressors and pneumatic power equipment, but not including pile drivers 86 dB(A)
Powered commercial equipment of two horsepower or less intended for infrequent use in residential areas, such as chainsaws, pavement breakers, log chippers, powered hand tools, etc. 84 dB(A)
(2) 
No person shall sell or lease or offer for sale or lease new or secondhand equipment that produces a maximum noise exceeding the noise limit at the distance of 50 feet as stated in Subsection I(1) above. The manufacturer, distributor, importer or designated agent shall, if requested, certify in writing to the City that his equipment sold or leased within the City complies with the provisions of this chapter.

§ 470-9 Use of property.

A. 
Any property use established in a zoning district as defined and designated under the provisions of the City of Altoona Zoning Ordinance[1] shall be such as to comply with the performance standards governing noise set forth hereinafter for the district in which such use shall be located.
[1]:
Editor's Note: See Ch. 535, Planning, Part 3, Zoning.
B. 
Noise levels shall be measured in terms of the sound level in dB(A) using a sound level meter.
C. 
In all commercial and industrial zoning districts, at no point on the boundary of any residential and/or mixed residential zoning district shall the sound level of any individual operation or business, or the combined operations of any person, firm or corporation, exceed the dB(A) levels shown below for the zoning district indicated from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. of the following day, as measured under the test procedures established by § 470-10 of this chapter.
(1) 
Maximum sound levels dB(A) along district boundaries as measured by conventional sound level meters on slow response:
Residential Mixed Residential Commercial/Industrial
A-scale levels 55 dB(A) 58 dB(A) 62 dB(A)
(2) 
In commercial zoning districts, all activities involving the production, processing, cleaning, servicing, testing, repair of materials, goods or products, or any property use shall conform with the performance standards stated above, provided that performance standards shall, in every case, be applied at the boundaries of the lot on which any such activities take place, except in such cases where the maximum permitted sound levels may be exceeded at a more distant point.
(3) 
In residential and mixed residential zoning districts, any property use shall conform with the performance standards stated above for residential and mixed residential district boundaries, including, but not limited to, any "party" as defined herein, provided that performance standards shall, in every case, be applied at the boundaries of the lot on which such use is established, except in such cases where the maximum permitted sound levels may be exceeded at a more distant point.
(4) 
The maximum sound levels established in this section to be applied to the boundaries of a lot shall not apply to construction sites and emergency operations. Construction site noise levels shall be regulated by § 470-8I of this chapter.

§ 470-10 Test procedures.

Test procedures to determine whether maximum noises emitted by powered equipment or powered hand tools sold or leased, or offered for sale or lease, meet the noise limits stated in § 470-8I of this chapter shall be in substantial conformity with standards and recommended practices established by the SAE International and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and such other and further standards as may be propounded by the City of Altoona.