Turning up the volume for change

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Ali Bliss, the executive director of KSU's Undergraduate Student Senate; and Bill Sopko, a recent KSU graduate; asked City Council Wednesday to consider incorporating specific hours of enforcement, verbal and written warnings, noise meters and noise permits into the city's noise ordinance.

Sopko said the proposed changes are not intended to eliminate the law, but to make it clearer and more enforceable. The existing code allows officers to issue tickets if the noise can be heard at the edge of a property line.

"It's the same as when you're pulled over," he said. "The officer isn't going to say, 'I think you were speeding, here's a ticket,' or, 'I think you were drinking, here's a DUI.' "

Noise meters would be one way ensure enforcement is not arbitrary, he said.

But residents say they already have a way to know if noise is too loud, their own ears.

"I just want to enjoy my home," said Sandy Bowers of the Crain to Main Neighborhood Association. "I don't believe I should have to play parent to a bunch of adults who should know better. If it's too loud if you were living next door to your parents, it's too loud for us. It's the same houses over and over again. It's not that they don't know, they don't care."

Council members asked the city administration to review the student senate's proposal and look at the codes used in other university towns which have amended their noise ordinances to include noise meters.

Police Chief James Peach said the city's noise ordinance is specific enough, and noise meters are not necessary.

"Why should we depend on high technology to tell us whether people lying in their beds at night are offended?" he asked.

Law Director James Silver said using noise meters in enforcement would ensure no citations are issued because the noise would cease once people spotted the officer using the meter.

This is not the first time the city has been asked to revise the noise ordinance. Since it first took effect, KSU students have complained the ordinance is not evenly enforced throughout the city and students are often targeted. Bliss and Sopko attended a council meeting in April with a similar presentation and were asked to return with a list of suggested amendments.

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