Town of Dalton, MA
Berkshire County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Dalton. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Noncriminal disposition — See Ch. 1, Art. II.
Barking and howling dogs — See Ch. 23, § 23-6A(6).
Noise in parks — See Ch. 185.
Noise from garbage collection vehicles — See Ch. 604, Art. I.
A. 
Excessive sound is a serious hazard to the public health, welfare, safety, and the quality of life. A substantial body of science and technology exists by which excessive sound may be substantially abated. The people have a right to and should be ensured an environment free from excessive sound. It is the policy of the Town of Dalton to prevent excessive sound that may jeopardize the health, welfare, or safety of the citizens or degrade the quality of life.
B. 
This bylaw shall apply to the control of sound originating from stationary and mobile sources, as described herein, within the limits of the Town of Dalton.
The following words and terms, when used in this bylaw, 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.
A-WEIGHTING
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 banking and other financial institutions; dining establishments; establishments for providing retail or wholesale services; establishments for recreation and entertainment; office buildings; transportation; and warehouses.
CONSTRUCTION
Any site preparation, assembly, erection, repair, alteration or similar action, or demolition of buildings or structures.
C-WEIGHTING
The electronic filtering in sound level meters that models a flat response (output equals input) over the range of maximum human bearing frequency sensitivity.
DBA
The A-weighted unit of sound pressure level.
DBC
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, sewer facilities, or public transportation facilities, removing fallen trees on public rights-of-way, or to abate any immediate or substantial threat of damage to life, health or property.
IMPULSIVE SOUND
A sound having a duration of less that one second 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.
MEASURING INSTRUMENT
An instrument, such as a sound level meter, integrating sound level meter or dosimeter, used to measure sound pressure levels conforming to Type 1 or Type 2 standards as specified in the latest version of ANSI Standard S 1.4-1983.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle that is propelled or drawn on land by an engine or motor.
MUFFLER
A sound-dissipative device or system for attenuating the sound of escaping gases of an internal combustion engine.
MULTI-DWELLING-UNIT BUILDING
Any building wherein there are two or more dwelling units.
MUNICIPALITY
The Town of Dalton.
NOISE
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 Board of Health which is empowered to grant permits for waivers.
NOISE CONTROL OFFICER (NCO)
An officially designated agent of the Board of Health trained in the measurement of sound and empowered to issue a summons for violations of this bylaw.
NOISE DISTURBANCE
Any sound that:
A. 
Endangers the safety or health of any person;
B. 
Disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or
C. 
Endangers personal or real property.
PERSON
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 multi-dwelling-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:
A. 
Private property used for human habitation;
B. 
Commercial living accommodations and commercial property used for human habitation;
C. 
Recreational and entertainment property used for human habitation; and
D. 
Community service property used for human habitation.
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 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.
WEEKDAY
Any day, Monday through Friday, that is not a legal holiday.
A. 
The Noise Control Officer (NCO) shall enforce the provisions of this bylaw.
B. 
The Noise Control Administrator (NCA) shall have the power to:
(1) 
Coordinate the noise control activities of all municipal departments and cooperate with all other public bodies and agencies to the extent practicable;
(2) 
Review the actions of other municipal departments and advise such departments to the effect, if any, of such actions on noise control;
(3) 
Review public and private projects, subject to mandatory review or approval by other departments or boards, for compliance with this bylaw; and
(4) 
Grant permits for waivers according to the provisions of § 185-9.
C. 
All persons conducting sound measurements to assess compliance with this section shall be trained in the current techniques and principles of sound measurement equipment and instrumentation.
D. 
Noise measurements taken by an NCO shall be taken in accordance with the procedures specified in § 185-5.
A. 
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 bylaw.
B. 
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 bylaw.
A. 
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, maximum, and fluctuating rates.
B. 
All tests shall be conducted in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) 
The NCO shall, to the extent practicable, identify all sources contributing sound to the point of measurement.
(2) 
Measurements shall be taken at or within the property line of the affected person.
(3) 
The measuring instrument must be calibrated using a calibrator recommended by the measuring instrument manufacturer before and after each series of readings.
(4) 
The measuring instrument 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 manufacturer. A copy of written documentation of such recertification and recalibration shall be kept with the equipment to which it refers.
(5) 
No outdoor measurements shall be taken:
(a) 
During periods when wind speeds (including gusts) exceed 15 miles per hour;
(b) 
Without a windscreen, recommended by the measuring instrument manufacturer, properly attached to the measuring instrument;
(c) 
Under any condition that allows the measuring instrument to become wet (e.g., rain, snow, or condensation); or
(d) 
When the ambient temperature is out of the range of the tolerance of the measuring instrument.
C. 
The report for each measurement session shall include:
(1) 
The date, day of the week, and times at which measurements are taken;
(2) 
The times of calibration;
(3) 
The weather conditions;
(4) 
The identification of all monitoring equipment by manufacturer, model number, and serial number;
(5) 
The normal operating cycle of the sources in question with a description of the sources;
(6) 
The ambient sound level, in dBA, with the sources in question operating;
(7) 
The background sound level, in dBA, without the sources in question operating; and
(8) 
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.
D. 
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.
E. 
When measuring continuous sound, or sound that is sustained for more than one second at a time, the measuring instrument shall be set for A-weighting, slow response, and the range (if the measuring instrument is designed to read levels over different ranges) shall be set to that range in which the meter reads closest to the middle of the scale. The minimum and maximum readings shall be recorded to indicate the range of monitored values along with the central tendency average most often displayed.
F. 
The measuring instrument shall be placed at a minimum height of three feet above the ground or from any reflective surface. When handheld, the microphone shall be held at arm's length and pointed at the source at the angle recommended by the measuring instrument's manufacturer.
G. 
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.
H. 
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.
I. 
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 the bylaw cannot be substantiated.
Table 1
Correction for Background Levels
(in dBA)
Difference Between Ambient and Background Levels
Correction Factor to be Subtracted from Ambient Sound Level for Source Level
3
3
4 - 5
2
6 - 9
1
10 or more
0
A. 
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 hours (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) and by at least five dBA during nighttime hours (10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) 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.
(1) 
If the background sound level cannot be determined, the absolute sound level limits set forth in Table 2 shall be used.
(2) 
If the sound source in question is a pure tone, the limits of Table 2 shall be reduced by five dBA.
Table 2
Maximum Permissible Sound Levels*
(in dBA)
Receiving Property
Residential
Commercial
Source Property
7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
10:00 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.
All times
Residential
55
50
65
Commercial
65
50
65
Industrial
65
50
65
NOTE:
*
These levels would be appropriate for typical suburban environments. Urban environments may allow for limits that are five to 10 dBA higher, and rural or quiet suburban environments may allow for limits that are five to 10 dBA lower than those listed. The specific limitations should be based on the environment and tastes of the municipality.
(3) 
Nonrepetitive impulsive sound sources shall not exceed 90 dBA or 120 dBA at or within a residential real property line, using the fast meter-response speed.
(4) 
In multi-dwelling-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.
B. 
The following are exempt from the sound level limits of Subsection A:
(1) 
Noise from emergency signaling devices;
(2) 
Noise from an exterior burglar alarm of any building, provided that such burglar alarm shall terminate its operation within 30 minutes of its activation;
(3) 
Noise from domestic power tools, lawn mowers, and agricultural equipment when operated between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on weekends and legal holidays except in emergency work, provided that they generate less than 85 dBA at or within any real property line of a residential property;
(4) 
Any bell or chime from any school, church or municipal facility.
(5) 
Noise from construction activity, provided that all motorized equipment used in such activity is equipped with functioning mufflers, except as provided in § 185-7B(6);
(6) 
Noise from snow blowers, snow throwers, and snowplows when operated with a muffler for the purpose of snow removal or their maintenance.
C. 
When the source being analyzed is a stereo system with low frequency signals as part of its output, the stereo shall not cause a C-weighted level of 10 dB or greater above the C-weighted ambient level at a distance of 10 feet from the source or the complainant's property line, whichever is greater.
A. 
No person shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit to be made verbally or mechanically any noise disturbance, as defined in § 185-6A.
B. 
Other than as noted in the definition of "emergency work" in § 185-2, no person shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit the following acts:
(1) 
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 § 185-6A) for any person other than the operator of the device;
(2) 
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 § 185-6A) across a residential real property line;
(3) 
Owning, possessing, or harboring any animal or bird that, frequently or for continued duration, generates sounds that create a noise disturbance (as defined in § 185-6A) across a residential real property line;
(4) 
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 § 185-6A) across a residential property line;
(5) 
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 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day or as authorized by permit. This section shall not apply to delivery or pickup vehicles that require the operation of the engine to unload or load their vending loads or to the operation of vehicles carrying products which must be kept refrigerated;
(6) 
Operating or permitting the operation of any tools or equipment used in construction, drilling, earthmoving, excavating, or demolition work between 6:00 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 waiver issued pursuant to § 185-9, or when the sound level does not exceed any applicable relative or absolute limit specified in § 185-6A.
A. 
The provisions of this bylaw shall not apply to noise emitted by or related to any of the following:
(1) 
Any siren, whistle or bell or other sound generating device used in an alarm system relating to an emergency situation except as provided in § 185-6B(2);
(2) 
Any siren, whistle or bell lawfully used by emergency response vehicles, cleanup or repair work that is necessary to ensure the protection of public health safety or welfare;
(3) 
Natural phenomena;
(4) 
Any siren, whistle or bell required by law or regulation which operates at sound levels appropriate to the environment;
(5) 
Noncommercial public speaking and public assembly activities subject to federal and state constitutional protection;
(6) 
Farming equipment or farming activity; or
(7) 
Devices used in conjunction with places of religious worship.
B. 
Noise generated from municipally sponsored or approved celebrations or events shall be exempt from the provisions of this bylaw.
A. 
Any person who owns or operates any stationary or mobile noise source may apply to the NCA for a waiver from one or more of the provisions of this bylaw. Every request for a waiver shall be made in writing and shall be subject to a public hearing before the Board of Health. The requesting party, at his or her sole expense, must notify all property owners within 300 feet by certified mail at least 10 days prior to the public hearing. Applicants for a permit of waiver shall supply information, including but not limited to:
(1) 
The nature and location of the noise source for which such application is made;
(2) 
The reason for which the permit of waiver is requested, including the hardship that will result to the applicant, his/her client, or the public if the permit of waiver is not granted;
(3) 
The level of noise that will occur during the period of the waiver;
(4) 
The section or sections of this bylaw for which the permit of waiver shall apply;
(5) 
A description of interim noise control measures to be taken for the applicant to minimize noise and the impacts occurring therefrom; and
(6) 
A specific schedule of the noise control measures that shall be taken to bring the source into compliance with this bylaw within a reasonable time.
(a) 
Failure to supply the information required by the NCA shall be cause for rejection of the application.
(b) 
A copy of the permit of waiver must be kept on file by the Municipal Clerk for public inspection.
(c) 
Any denial of a waiver shall also be in writing and shall contain a brief statement of the reasons for denial.
(d) 
The requesting party has the right to appeal the denial of a waiver by filing suit in Superior Court.
B. 
The NCA may charge the applicant a fee as established by the Select Board to cover expenses resulting from the processing of the permit of waiver application and any required noise evaluations to be conducted by the NCO for the requested permit.
C. 
The NCA may, at its discretion, limit the duration of the permit of waiver, which shall be no longer than one year. Any person holding a permit of waiver and requesting an extension of time shall apply for a new permit of waiver under the provisions of this section.
D. 
No waiver shall be approved unless the applicant presents adequate proof that:
(1) 
Noise levels occurring during the period of the waiver will not constitute a danger to public health; and
(2) 
Compliance with the bylaw would impose an unreasonable hardship on the applicant without equal or greater benefits to the public.
E. 
In making the determination of granting a waiver, the NCA shall consider:
(1) 
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;
(2) 
The social and economic value of the activity for which the waiver is sought; and
(3) 
The ability of the applicant to apply the best practical noise control measures.
F. 
The permit of waiver may be revoked by the NCA if the terms of the permit of waiver are violated.
G. 
A waiver may be revoked by the NCA if there is:
(1) 
Violation of one or more conditions of the waiver;
(2) 
Material misrepresentation of fact in the waiver application; or
(3) 
Material change in any of the circumstances relied on by the NCA in granting the waiver.
A. 
The NCO shall initially determine the extent and nature of any violations of the bylaw and, having determined that such violations have occurred or are continuing to occur, shall serve a written notice of violation on the offender. Every day that the violation continues after service of a notice of violation may constitute a separate violation for which additional notices of violation are not required.
B. 
A notice of violation is deemed served on the day it is received, if served by hand or by certified mail, return receipt requested, and is deemed served on the third day after mailing, if served by first-class mail, postage prepaid.
C. 
Each notice of violation shall state that the NCA shall hold a public hearing, at which the offender shall be allowed to appear and present evidence in his behalf, to determine if the violation(s) set forth in the notice constitutes a violation of the bylaw, and to impose any and all appropriate penalties for such violations, including fines as set forth below, and/or an order to cease and desist. Notice of such public hearing shall be served on the offender in the manner set forth for the above service of a notice of violation, such hearing to be held no sooner than two weeks from the date that such notice is served.
D. 
If a person has been found by the NCA to have violated this bylaw, and has been ordered to cease and desist such violation, and is subsequently determined by the NCA to have again committed that same violation, then the violator shall, in addition to the penalty and enforcement provisions set forth in this section, pay to the Town the reasonable cost of testing incurred by the Town to determine such subsequent violation(s).
E. 
Whoever violates any provision of this bylaw shall be fined a maximum of $300 for each offense or be subject to noncriminal disposition of the offense pursuant to Chapter 1.
If any provision of this bylaw is held to be unconstitutional, preempted by federal or state law, or otherwise invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining provisions of the bylaw shall not be invalidated.
This bylaw shall take effect upon its approval by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is posted and published by the Town Clerk of Dalton, Massachusetts in accordance with MGL c. 40, § 32; and is intended to apply to all preexisting noise pollution as of that date.