[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Lehighton 3-8-1976 by Ord. No. 300; amended in its entirety 5-22-1995 by Ord. No. 452. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Whereas excessive sound is a serious hazard to the public health, welfare and safety and the quality of life and whereas a substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive sound may be substantially abated and whereas the people have a right to and should be ensured an environment free from excessive sound, it is the policy of the Borough of Lehighton to prevent excessive sound that may jeopardize the health, welfare or safety of the citizens or degrade the quality of life.
This chapter shall apply to the control of sound originating from stationary sources within the limits of the Borough of Lehighton.
The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- AMBIENT SOUND LEVEL
- The total sound pressure level in the area of interest, including the noise source of interest.
- The electronic filtering in sound level meters that models human hearing frequency sensitivity.
- BACKGROUND SOUND LEVEL
- The total sound pressure level in the area of interest, excluding the noise source of interest.
- COMMERCIAL AREA
- A group of commercial facilities and the abutting public right-of-way and public spaces.
- COMMERCIAL FACILITY
- Any premises, property or facility involving traffic in goods or furnishing of services for sale or profit, including but not limited to:
- Any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action or demolition of buildings or structures.
- The electronic filtering in sound level meters that models a flat response (output equals input) over the range of maximum human hearing frequency sensitivity.
- The A-weighted unit of sound pressure level.
- The C-weighted unit of sound pressure level.
- DECIBEL (dB)
- The unit of measurement for sound pressure level at a specified location.
- EMERGENCY WORK
- Any work or action necessary to deliver essential services, including but not limited to repairing water, gas, electric, telephone or sewer facilities or public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way or abating life-threatening conditions.
- IMPULSIVE SOUND
- A sound having a duration of less than one s with an abrupt onset and rapid decay.
- INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
- Any activity and its related premises, property, facilities or equipment involving the fabrication, manufacture or production of durable or nondurable goods.
- MOTOR VEHICLE
- Any vehicle that is propelled or drawn on land by an engine or motor.
- A sound-dissipative device or system for attenuating the sound of escaping gases of an internal combustion engine.
- MULTIDWELLING UNIT BUILDING
- Any building wherein there are two or more dwelling units.
- The Borough of Lehighton.
- Any sound of such level and duration as to be or tend to be injurious to human health or welfare or which would unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property throughout the municipality or in any portions thereof, but excludes all aspects of the employer-employee relationship concerning health and safety hazards within the confines of a place of employment.
- NOISE CONTROL ADMINISTRATOR (NCA)
- The Noise Control Officer designated as the official liaison with all municipal departments, empowered to grant permits for variances.
- NOISE CONTROL OFFICER (NCO)
- An officially designated employee of the municipality trained in the measurement of sound and empowered to issue a citation for violations of this chapter.
- NOISE DISTURBANCE
- Any sound that endangers the safety or health of any person, disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities or endangers personal or real property.
- Any individual, corporation, company, association, society, firm partnership, joint-stock company, the municipality or any political subdivision, agency or instrumentality of the municipality.
- PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY
- Any street, avenue, boulevard, road, highway, sidewalk or alley that is leased, owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
- PUBLIC SPACE
- Any real property or structures thereon that is owned, leased or controlled by a governmental entity.
- PURE TONE
- Any sound that can be judged as a single pitch or set of single pitches by the NCO.
- REAL PROPERTY LINE
- Either the imaginary line, including its vertical extension, that separates one parcel of real property from another, or the vertical and horizontal boundaries of a dwelling unit that is one in a multidwelling unit building.
- RESIDENTIAL AREA
- A group of residential properties and the abutting public rights-of-way and public spaces.
- RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
- Property used for human habitation, including but not limited to:
- SOUND LEVEL
- The instantaneous sound pressure level measured in decibels with a sound level meter set for A-weighting on slow integration speed, unless otherwise noted.
- SOUND LEVEL METER (SLM)
- An instrument used to measure sound pressure levels conforming to Type 1 or Type 2 standards as specified in ANSI Standard S1.4-1983 or the latest version thereof.
- SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL)
- Twenty multiplied by the logarithm, to the base 10, of the measured sound pressure divided by the sound pressure associated with the threshold of human hearing, in units of decibels.
- Any day, Monday through Friday, that is not a legal holiday.
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Noise Control Officers (NCO's).
The Noise Control Administrator (NCA) shall have the power to:
Coordinate the noise control activities of all municipal departments and cooperate with all other public bodies and agencies to the extent practicable.
Review the actions of other municipal departments and advise such departments of the effect, if any, of such actions on noise control.
Review public and private projects, subject to mandatory review or approval by other departments or boards, for compliance with this chapter.
A person shall be qualified to be an NCO if the person has satisfactorily completed any of the following:
An instructional program in community noise from a certified noise control engineer, as evidenced by certification from the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE);
An instructional program in community noise from another NCO; or
All departments and agencies of the municipality shall carry out their programs according to law and shall cooperate with the NCA in the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.
All departments charged with new projects or changes to existing projects that may result in the production of noise shall consult with the NCA prior to the approval of such projects to ensure that such activities comply with the provisions of this chapter.
Insofar as practicable, sound will be measured while the source under investigation is operating at normal routine conditions and, as necessary, at other conditions, including but not limited to design and maximum and fluctuating rates.
All tests shall be conducted in accordance with the following procedures:
The NCO shall, to the extent practicable, identify all sources contributing sound to the point of measurement.
Measurements shall be taken at or within the property line of the affected person.
The SLM must be calibrated using a calibrator recommended by the SLM manufacturer before and after each series of readings and at least once each hour.
The SLM must be recertified and the calibrator must be recalibrated at least once each year by the manufacturer or by a person that has been approved by the NCA. A copy of written documentation of such recertification and recalibration, in a form approved by the NCA, shall be kept with the equipment to which it refers.
No outdoor measurements shall be taken:
During periods when wind speeds (including gusts) exceed 15 miles per hour;
Without a windscreen, recommended by the SLM manufacturer, properly attached to the SLM;
Under any condition that allows the SLM to become wet (e.g., rain, snow or condensation); or
When the ambient temperature is out of the range of the tolerance of the SLM.
The report for each measurement session shall include:
The date, day of the week and times at which measurements are taken.
The times of calibration.
The weather conditions.
The identification of all monitoring equipment by manufacturer, model number and serial number.
The normal operating cycle of the sources in question with a description of the sources.
The ambient sound level, in dBA, with the sources in question operating.
The background sound level, in dBA, without the sources in question operating.
A sketch of the measurement site, including measurement locations and relevant distances, containing sufficient information for another investigator to repeat the measurements under similar conditions.
Prior to taking noise measurements, the investigator shall explore the vicinity of the source in question to identify any other sound sources that could affect measurements, to establish the approximate location and character of the principal sound source and to select suitable locations from which to measure the sound from the source in question.
When measuring continuous sound or sound that is sustained for more than one s at a time, the SLM shall be set for A-weighting, slow meter response speed, and the range (if the SLM is designed to read levels over different ranges of SPL's) shall be set to that range in which the meter reads closest to the maximum end of the scale. When the measured sound level is variable or fluctuating over a range greater than +-3 dBA, using the slow meter response speed, the fast meter response speed shall be used. In either case, both the minimum and maximum readings shall be recorded to indicate the range of monitored values.
The SLM shall be placed at a minimum height of three feet above the ground or from any reflective surface. When hand-held, the microphone shall be held at arm's length and pointed at the source at the angle recommended by the SLM manufacturer.
If extraneous sound sources, such as aircraft flyovers or barking dogs, that are unrelated to the measurements increase the monitored sound levels, the measurements should be postponed until these extraneous sounds have become of such a level as not to increase the monitored sound levels of interest.
The monitoring session should last for a period of time sufficient to ensure that the sound levels measured are typical of the source in question, but in no event shall the duration of testing be less than five minutes.
The background sound levels shall be subtracted from the measured sound levels of the source of interest by using Table 1 to determine the sound levels from the source of interest alone. If the ambient sound level is less than three dBA higher than the background sound level, the source level cannot be derived and a violation of this chapter cannot be substantiated.
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the operation of any sound source on a particular category of property or any public space or right-of-way in such a manner as to create a sound level that exceeds the background sound level by at least 10 dBA during daytime (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) hours and by at least five dBA during nighttime (10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) hours when measured at or within the real property line of the receiving property, except as provided in Subsection A(1). Such a sound source would constitute a noise disturbance.
If the background sound level cannot be determined, the absolute sound level limits set forth in Table 2 shall be used.
If the sound source in question is a pure tone, the limits of Table 2 shall be reduced by five dBA.
Nonrepetitive impulsive sound sources shall not exceed 90 dBA or 120 dBC at or within a residential real property line, using the fast meter response speed.
In multidwelling unit buildings, if the background sound level cannot be determined, the daytime limit is 45 dBA and the nighttime limit is 35 dBA for sounds originating in another dwelling within the same building.
The following are exempt from the sound level limits of Subsection A:
Noise from emergency signaling devices.
Noise from an exterior burglar alarm of any building, provided that such burglar alarm shall terminate its operation within five minutes of its activation.
Noise from domestic power tools, lawn mowers and agricultural equipment when operated between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends and legal holidays, provided that they generate less than 85 dBA at or within any real property line of a residential property.
Sound from church bells and chimes when a part of a religious observance or service.
Noise from construction activity, provided that all motorized equipment used in such activity is equipped with functioning mufflers, except as provided in § 149-7B(6).
Noise from snow blowers, snow throwers and snow plows when operated with a muffler for the purpose of snow removal.
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit to be made verbally or mechanically any noise disturbance, as defined in § 149-6A.
No person shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the following acts:
Operating, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph or similar device that reproduces or amplifies sound in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance (as defined in § 149-6A) for any person other than the operator of the device.
Using or operating any loudspeaker, public address system or similar device between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day, such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance (as defined in § 149-6A) across a residential real property line.
Owning, possessing or harboring any animal or bird that, frequently or for continued duration, generates sounds that create a noise disturbance (as defined in § 149-6A) across a residential real property line.
Loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, liquids, garbage cans, refuse or similar objects or the pneumatic or pumped loading or unloading of bulk materials in liquid, gaseous, powder or pellet form or the compacting of refuse by persons engaged in the business of scavenging or garbage collection, whether private or municipal, between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on a weekday and between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. the following day on a weekend day or legal holiday except by permit, when the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance (as defined in § 149-6A) across a residential property line.
Operating or permitting the operation of any motor vehicle whose manufacturer's gross weight rating is in excess of 10,000 pounds or any auxiliary equipment attached to such a vehicle, for a period of longer than five minutes in any hour while the vehicle is stationary, for reasons other than traffic congestion or emergency work, on a public right-of-way or public space within 150 feet of a residential area between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day.
Operating or permitting the operation of any tools or equipment used in construction, drilling, earthmoving, excavating or demolition work between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day on a weekday or at any time on a weekend day or legal holiday, except for emergency work, by variance issued pursuant to § 149-9 or when the sound level does not exceed any applicable relative or absolute limit specified in § 149-6A.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
The generation of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency except as provided in § 149-6B(2);
The generation of sound in the performance of emergency work; or
The generation of sound in situations within the jurisdiction of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Noise generated from municipally sponsored or approved celebrations or events shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.
Any person who owns or operates any stationary noise source may apply to the NCA for a variance from one or more of the provisions of this chapter. Applications for a permit of variance shall supply information including but not limited to:
The nature and location of the noise source for which such application is made.
The reason for which the permit of variance is requested, including the hardship that will result to the applicant, his/her client or the public if the permit of variance is not granted.
The level of noise that will occur during the period of the variance.
The section or sections of this chapter for which the permit of variance shall apply.
A description of interim noise control measures to be taken for the applicant to minimize noise and the impacts occurring therefrom.
A specific schedule of the noise control measures that shall be taken to bring the source into compliance with this chapter within a reasonable time.
Failure to supply the information required by the NCA shall be cause for rejection of the application. A copy of the permit of variance must be kept on file by the Municipal Clerk for public inspection.
The NCA may charge the applicant a fee of $30 to cover expenses resulting from the processing of the permit of variance application.
The NCA may, at his/her discretion, limit the duration of the permit of variance, which shall be no longer than one year. Any person holding a permit of variance and requesting an extension of time shall apply for a new permit of variance under the provisions of this section.
No variance shall be approved unless the applicant presents adequate proof that:
In making the determination of granting a variance, the NCA shall consider:
The character and degree of injury to or interference with the health and welfare or the reasonable use of property that is caused or threatened to be caused.
The social and economic value of the activity for which the variance is sought.
The ability of the applicant to apply the best practical noise control measures.
The permit of variance may be revoked by the NCA if the terms of the permit of variance are violated.
Violation of any provision of this chapter shall be cause for a citation to be issued by the NCO according to procedures promulgated by the Borough Council.
In lieu of issuing a citation as provided in Subsection A, the NCO may issue an order requiring abatement of any sound source alleged to be in violation of this chapter within a reasonable time period and according to guidelines that the NCO may prescribe.
Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a fine for each offense of not more than $100. If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it occurs shall constitute an additional, separate and distinct offense.
No provision of this chapter shall be construed to impair any common law or statutory cause of action, or legal remedy therefrom, of any person for injury or damage arising from any violation of this chapter or from other law.