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(A) Definitions. Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the words and phrases used in this section shall have the following meanings:
(1) “A” WEIGHTING SCALE. The sound pressure level, in decibels, as measured with the sound level meter using the “A” weighted network (scale). The standard unit of notation is dB(A).
(2) DAYTIME HOURS. 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., local time.
(3) DECIBEL (dB(A)). The decibel is a unit of measure of sound (noise) level relative to a standard reference sound on a logarithmic scale.
(4) ELECTRONIC SOUND AMPLIFICATION SYSTEM. Any radio, tape player, compact disc player, loud speaker or other electronic device used for the amplification of sound.
(5) EMERGENCY WORK. Work necessary to restore property to a safe condition following a public calamity or work required to protect persons or property from an imminent exposure to danger by private or public utilities when restoring utility service.
(6) MOTOR VEHICLE. For purposes of this section, the term motor vehicle includes any vehicle which is propelled or drawn on land by a motor, including but not limited to motorcycles, passenger cars, trucks, truck-trailers, semitrailers, campers, go-carts, amphibious craft on land, dune buggies, racing vehicles, mopeds, motorized bicycles or motorized scooters or skateboards.
(7) MOTOR BOAT. Any vessel which operates on water and is propelled by a motor, including, but not limited to, boats, barges, amphibious craft, water ski towing devices, jet skis and hovercraft.
(8) MUFFLER OR SOUND DISSIPATING DEVICE. An apparatus consisting of a series of chambers or baffled plates designed for the purpose of transmitting gases while reducing sound emanating from such apparatus.
(9) NIGHTTIME HOURS. 11:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m., local time.
(10) NOISE. Any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.
(11) NOISE DISTURBANCE. Any sound which endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals; a noise that disturbs a reasonable person with normal sensitivities; endangers or injures personal or real property; or is unreasonably loud, disturbing or excessive noise.
(12) NOISE SENSITIVE ZONE. Any area designated by the town for the purpose of ensuring exceptional quiet.
(13) OWNER OF REAL PROPERTY. The owner or listed owner, of real property as defined in North Carolina General Statute 105-302.
(14) PERSON. A person, firm, association, co-partnership, joint venture, corporation, or any entity, public or private in nature.
(15) REAL PROPERTY BOUNDARY. A line along the ground surface and its vertical extension, which separates the real property owned by one person from that owned by another, but not including intra-budding real property divisions.
(16) RIGHT OF WAY. Any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, sidewalk or alley or similar plan which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.
(17) SOUND AMPLIFICATION DEVICES. Any radio, tape player, compact disc player, MP3 player, loud speaker, amplifier, or other device used for the amplification of sound.
(18) SOUND LEVEL (NOISE LEVEL) IN DECIBELS. The level measured on the A-weighted scale as defined in the American National Standards S-1.4-1983.
(19) SOUND LEVEL METER. An instrument designed for the measuring of sound levels and a means of displaying the sound level using the A-weighting network.
(20) TENANT. One who resides on or has the temporary use or occupancy of real property owned by another person. In the case of residential property, the term “tenant” shall be considered to mean any individual actually residing at the residential location, whether such person is listed on a lease or not.
(21) UNREASONABLY LOUD, DISTURBING OR EXCESSIVE NOISE. Any sound which because of its volume, level, duration or character disturbs, discomforts, injures or endangers the health, peace or safety of a reasonable person with normal sensitivities. For purposes of this chapter, such a sound shall be deemed to be a noise disturbance.
(22) ZONING DISTRICTS. Means land classification within the town that regulate the uses and the locations of structures. Zoning Districts are established in Chapter 153 of this Code.
(B) Noise Measurement Techniques.
(1) Sound level meters.
(a) For the purpose of determining decibels, (dB(A)'s) as referred to in this chapter, noise shall be measured on the A-weighting scale on a sound level meter of standard design and quality having characteristics established by the American National Standards Institute.
(b) The sound level meter should be certified to meet or exceed the American National Standards Institute or its successor bodies and shall be serviced, calibrated and operated as recommended by the manufacturer. Persons utilizing the sound level meter for purposes of this chapter shall be familiar with sound level measurement and the operation of sound level measurement equipment, and shall operate the sound level meter in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
(2) Alternative Measurement Techniques.
(a) In the event that the noise cannot be measured on a sound level meter operated on the “A” weighting network (scale) or it is otherwise impractical to utilize this measurement technique under the circumstances: (i) the complaints of two or more persons, at least one of whom resides in a different location from the other complaining person or persons, when combined with the complaint of an authorized investigating officer, shall be prima facie evidence that the sound is unreasonably loud, disturbing or excessive noise; and/or (ii) if the noise is of such a nature that a reasonable person with normal sensitivities should have known that the noise was creating an unreasonably loud, disturbing or excessive noise the same shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this chapter. Sound emission decibel measurements shall not be required for establishment of a violation under the circumstances set out above and the same shall be deemed to be a noise disturbance.
(b) In determining whether a noise, under this section, is of such character as to be noise disturbance the investigating officer shall consider the following non-exclusive list of factors:
1. Does the noise cross property lines?;
2. Complaints of neighbors regarding the noise;
3. Effect on neighbors complaining of the noise;
4. Time of day at which the noise takes place;
5. The intensity and duration of the noise;
6. The type of noise produced;
7. The reason or reasons for the noise; and
8. The alternative means available which will not produce excessive noise.
(3) Location of Measurement.
(a) Except for noise within multi-family or multi-tenanted structures, all noise measurements shall be made at or beyond the property line of the property from which the noise originates to determine if the noise creates a noise disturbance. For purposes of measurement, the back of the curb, the outside edges of driveways, fences, hedges or other physical features commonly associated with property boundaries are presumed to be at a point which is at or beyond the property line.
(b) In the case of noise within multi-family or multi-tenanted structures, noise measurements shall be made in the complaining unit with all windows and doors closed and at a point that is approximately the center of the room in the complaining unit that is nearest the unit from which the noise originates. If access to the complaining unit is not possible, then the measurement shall be at least 25 feet from the nearest point of habitable space of the unit from which the noise originates.
(C) Maximum Permitted Sound Levels By Zoning Classification.
(1) All zoning districts. It shall be unlawful to create, cause or allow the continuance of a noise disturbance, which interferes with neighboring residents' reasonable use and enjoyment of their properties when measured at or beyond the property line of the property from which the sound originates.
(2) Sounds Affecting Residential Zones. (Ocean Impact Residential Zone, Low Density, Residential Zones, Maritime Forest Environmental District, High Density Residential Zone) It shall be unlawful to create, cause or allow any mechanical, amplified or sound from any source which registers more than 60 dB(A) during daytime hours or 55 dB(A) during nighttime hours at or beyond the property line of the property from which the sound originates.
(3) Sounds affecting Commercial and Industrial Zones. (Commercial Zone, Light Industrial One Zone, Light Industrial Two Zone) It shall be unlawful to create, cause or allow any mechanical, amplified or sound from any source which registers more than 75 dB(A) during daytime hours or 65 dB(A) during nighttime hours at or beyond the property line from which the sound originates.
(4) When the zoning classification of the property where the sound originates differs from the zoning classification of the adjoining sound receiving property, then the maximum permitted sound level which will apply will be the higher of the two.
(5) Noise sensitive zones. Notwithstanding their location, hospitals, rest homes, other healthcare facilities, churches, other places of worship, educational institutions and day care facilities are noise sensitive zones and it shall be unlawful for any person to cause or allow the emission of sound onto said facilities during the facilities' operating hours which exceeds the noise limitations or reasonableness standards for sound levels affecting residential zones established by this chapter. For purposes of this section, measurements shall be made at the real property boundary of the noise sensitive zone facility nearest the real property boundary of the property from which the noise originates.
(D) Prohibited Noise.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person:
(a) To create or cause the creation of a noise disturbance so as to disturb or disrupt the peace and quietude of any person in the town; or
(b) To create, cause or allow the emission of sound beyond the boundaries of his property or onto the property of another:
1. Which endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals;
2. Which annoys or disturbs a reasonable person with normal sensitivities;
3. Which endangers or injures personal or real property; or
4. Where the sound level indicated for the zoning district in which the sound originates for that time of day is exceeded when measured with a sound level meter as provided in this chapter.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in the following acts, among others, which are declared to be a noise disturbance in violation of this chapter but such enumeration shall not be deemed to be exclusive:
(a) The playing of any television set, musical instrument or other electronic sound amplification system in such a manner or with such volume as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of a reasonable person with normal sensitivities;
(b) The keeping of an animal which, by causing frequent or long continued noise, shall disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of the neighborhood to such an extent as to constitute a nuisance;
(c) The creation of any noise on any street adjacent to any noise sensitive zone which interferes with the workings of or which disturbs or unduly annoys the citizens;
(d) The shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers and vendors which disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood;
(e) The use of any drum, loud speaker or other instrument or device for the purpose of attracting attention by creation of noise, to any performance, show or sale or display of merchandise;
(f) The use of air-horns, klaxons or whistles inside any town facility;
(g) The loading, unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, garbage cans, dumpsters of similar objects between the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the following day, in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential real property boundary or within a noise sensitive zone is prohibited as set forth in the maximum decibel levels set for each zone at the times of day consistent with this chapter;
(h) The use of any mechanical device operated by compressed air unless the noise created thereby is effectively muffled and reduced.
(3) It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to play, use or permit to be played any electronic sound amplification system which generates a sound level exceeding the decibel limits set forth in this chapter for the zoning district in which it is located for any of the following:
(a) Any public property including any public street, highway, building, sidewalk, park or thoroughfare;
(b) Any motor vehicle on a public street, highway, public space or commercial space; or
(4) Possession by a person of any machines or devices which may be classified as an electronic sound amplification system enumerated and defined in this chapter shall be prima facie evidence that person or those persons operated that machine or device.
(5) Equipment being used for construction, agricultural, lawn care, vehicle or boat repairs, or the like is prohibited after 8:00 p.m. and cannot commence before 7:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and prohibited after 6:00 p.m. and cannot commence before 9:00 a.m. on Sunday; provided that, all equipment shall be operated in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications, manufacturers mufflers and noise reducing equipment are in use and in proper operating condition and is not used in a manner or with such volume as to indicate an intent to disturb or annoy a reasonable person with normal sensitivities. The building inspector may, in the case of urgent necessity and in the interest of public safety issue a permit for other times, which may be renewed for a period of three days or less while the emergency continues.
(6) Nothing in this section shall preclude any citizen, without the benefit of noise measuring equipment or contacting a law enforcement officer, from appearing before a judicial officer to obtain a warrant based on this chapter.
(E) Motor Vehicles and Motor Boats. It shall be unlawful to operate or allow the operation of any motor vehicle or motor boat in the town:
(1) Which has its muffler, exhaust, and/or other noise-control equipment removed, altered or maintained in such disrepair as to create unreasonably loud or disturbing noises to a reasonable person with normal sensitivities;
(2) By engaging in spinning tires, racing engines, or other operations that create unreasonably loud and disturbing noises to a reasonable person with normal sensitivities;
(3) By playing or operating any sound system or sound producing instrument, device or apparatus installed or located in a motor vehicle or motor boat when the speaker volume is elevated to such an extent that the sound is clearly audible more than 50 feet from the vehicle. The provisions of this division shall apply regardless of whether the vehicle is traveling upon the streets of the town, parked on public property, or stopped in traffic. If the vehicle or boat is parked on private property then the restrictions set forth in “Maximum Permitted Sound Levels” for each zoning district shall also apply; and
(4) By the sounding of any horn or signal device on any boat, automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, bus or other vehicle, except as a danger signal, so as to create an unreasonably loud or harsh sound, or the sounding of such device for an unreasonable period of time, or the use of siren horns on a boat, bicycle, automobile, or other vehicle except upon authorized emergency service vehicles.
(F) Exemptions. This section shall not apply to the following sources:
(1) Emergency work;
(2) Generators for production of electricity at times when electrical service has been interrupted due to natural calamity or accidental disruption. Generators used for the production of electricity not exempted by this chapter shall be operated in accordance with the maximum decibel requirements of the zoning district where located.
(3) Parades, fairs, circuses, or other similar public entertainment, sporting events taking place during the daytime hours in areas set aside for such activities, or any activities normally associated with any of the above, including use of a loud speaker or public address system;
(4) Musical chimes or the sounding of bells emanating from a public, educational or religious institution or facility provided the sound is of reasonable duration and frequency;
(5) Noise from lawful fireworks and noisemakers on holidays and for ceremonies;
(6) The intentional sounding or permitting the sounding of any fire, burglar, or civil defense alarm, siren, whistle or similar stationary emergency signaling device for emergency purposes or for routine testing;
(7) Any activity to the extent regulation thereof has been pre-empted by state or federal law;
(8) Any other noise resulting from activities for which a permit allowing exemption from this article has been granted by the town. Regulation of noises emanating from operations under such permit shall be according to the conditions and limits stated on the permit;
(9) Noise resulting from the provision of sanitation or recycling collection trucks between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.;
(10) Noise resulting from the loading and unloading, opening, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, or similar objects between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.; and
(11) Any person may play a musical instrument between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays provided said sound does not exceed 65 dB(A) at the property line of the property from which the sound emanates.
(12) Agencies of the United States, North Carolina, County of Dare, or Town of Kill Devil Hills, including but not limited to law enforcement agencies, fire departments, ocean rescue services, refuse collection vehicles or apparatuses, and beach nourishment service contractors engaged in their lawful duties are exempt from the provisions of this section.
(G) Permits to Exceed Noise Limitations.
(a) Each applicant for a permit to use or operate a sound producing device, instrument or apparatus or otherwise exceed the noise limitations within the town shall complete and sign an application on a form supplied by the town and file the same with the Chief of Police (or designee) at least seven days prior to the date upon which the sound producing equipment is to be used or operated or excessive noise is to occur. Where good cause is shown, or in the judgment of the Chief of Police (or designee) the activity would involve significant political or religious features and therefore be entitled to enhanced deference or protection under the state or federal constitution, the Chief of Police (or designee) may consider an application filed after the deadline.
(b) The application shall describe the sound producing equipment or excessive noise, state the specific location, day, and hour or hours in which such sound producing equipment is to be used or operated or where the excessive sound will occur, and shall specify other terms and conditions as are essential to secure and protect the public safety. If sound producing equipment is to be used or operated on private property, the owners of such property must consent in writing.
(2) Issuance of permit. The Chief of Police (or designee) shall issue a permit for the use of the requested sound producing equipment, device or apparatus, or otherwise excessive sound to any applicant who complies with the provisions of this section unless he finds in writing that one or more of the special considerations specified in division (3) below cannot be adjusted to minimize adverse effects upon the community or surrounding area and would jeopardize the public health, safety and welfare, or unless the issuance of a permit for the time and location requested would overlap a previously applied for permit.
(3) Special considerations.
(a) Timeliness of the application;
(b) Nature of the requested activity or event;
(c) Time of the event;
(d) Duration of the event;
(e) Other activities in the vicinity of the location proposed;
(f) Effect of the activity on the residential areas of the town and surrounding community;
(g) Permit applicant's willingness to change the arrangement of amplifying equipment or sound instruments upon the request of the town so as to minimize disturbance of others beyond the property line or otherwise comply with special restrictions set forth by the town;
(h) Trash, litter and debris pick-up;
(i) Locations within 500 feet of a school, courthouse, place of worship, hospital, nursing home, or other institution caring for the sick, aged, or infirm;
(j) Locations where the Chief of Police (or designee), upon investigation, determines that the conditions of vehicular or pedestrian traffic or both are such that the use of excessive noise will constitute a threat to the safety of pedestrians or vehicle operation;
(k) Those adjoining property owners of the proposed site will be notified by the applicant of the event within a reasonable period of time prior to the proposed event;
(1) Previous experience with the applicant; and
(m) Previous violations of the noise ordinance by the applicant at the site at which the event will be held.
(4) A permit shall be denied if the applicant has been cited for a violation of the noise ordinance or if a violation has occurred at the site of the proposed event within the last 12 months from the date of the application.
(5) A copy of the permit shall be displayed at the site of the proposed event.
(6) Processing Time; Right of Appeal. Applications for permits to use a sound producing instrument, device or apparatus or otherwise exceed the noise limits of this chapter shall be processed and any decision made as expeditiously as possible. If an applicant has been denied a permit under this section and can show good cause that the denial is illegal by virtue of applicable state or federal law, he or she shall promptly submit a copy of the denied permit application together with a short statement of reasons demonstrating he or she has a good faith belief of entitlement to a permit to the Town Manager (or designee). The Town Manager (or designee) shall have the discretion to grant an exceptional permit waiving geographical, time, and/or dB(A) requirements upon his or her deterrnination that the applicant has made a substantial showing of legal entitlement. Any such exceptional permit shall be promptly reported to the Board of Commissioners.
(7) Fee for permit. Every application for a permit or permits shall require payment of a $25.00 administrative fee.
(1) This chapter shall be enforced in accordance with Chapter 10 of the Kill Devil Hills Town Code, G.S. § 160A-175 and G.S.§ 14-4.
(2) When it is reasonable and practical to do so, a person or persons believed to be violating any portion of this chapter may be given an oral order to cease or abate the noise immediately, or as soon as is reasonable or practical to do so, prior to being charged with a violation.
(3) If the order to cease or abate the noise is not complied with, or if the person declines to comply, the person or persons responsible may be charged with a violation of this chapter.
(4) Any violation of this chapter for which a criminal citation is issued pursuant to G.S. § 14-4 shall subject the defendant to fine not to exceed $250.00 for each violation.
(5) In addition to the fine associated with a criminal violation, the town shall have all remedies as provided in Chapter 10 of the Kill Devil Hills Town Code and G.S. § 160A-175 including the civil remedies of abatement and injunction.
(Ord. 12-20, passed 11-14-12; Am. Ord. 15-11, passed 2-8-16)