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10:05 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

HEY, buddy, keep it down!<BR>Council pulls plug on noise ordinance – for now – amid complaints

PRESCOTT – The noise ordinance that appeared to be ready for a routine vote this week raised some commotion within the local construction industry.

And that caused the Prescott City Council to pull the issue off its consent agenda Tuesday and delay action on the matter until at least November.

Last week, the Prescott City Council considered a modified ordinance that would give the city more authority to police noise violations that disturb the peace of residents.

The revised version of the ordinance was considerably less stringent than the one that the council first considered in September.

The original ordinance would have restricted noises such as vehicle horns, noises from birds or other animals, noise from loading or unloading, and route garbage services, deliveries and parking lot sweeping.

But when the council members first discussed the ordinance in September, they decided that City Attorney John Moffitt should modify the ordinance somewhat to take out some of the provisions.

That left the revised ordinance, which would have allowed the city to police such noises as: boom boxes or loud car stereos; rock crushers; screeching or squealing tires; outdoor loud speakers; and night-time outdoor construction noise from blasting, excavation, generators or heavy equipment.

During last week's discussion, the council members voiced few concerns about the revised ordinance, and no one from the public commented on the ordinance. That led the council to place the issue on its consent agenda, which is a list of non-controversial items that the council routinely ap-proves with a single vote.

But in the past week, representatives from the construction industry contacted city hall to complain about portions of the ordinance.

Before the discussion of the consent agenda began this week, Mayor Sam Steiger said the council would remove the noise ordinance from the consent agenda.

He told Moffitt to work out the problems with the ordinance and bring the issue back to the council in November. That ended the public discussion about the ordinance.

After the meeting, City Manager Larry Asaro said representatives of the construction field had voiced concerns about the broadness of the language in the ordinance.

For instance, he said, they questioned whether the definition of "construction" would extend to the equipment maintenance and repairs that crews regularly do at night.

"They were concerned that the times may not be workable," Asaro said.

The proposed ordinance stated that the city would allow construction noises only from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, unless the City Council approves expanded hours.

"We wanted to do a better job on the ordinance," Asaro said. "We didn't want to pass it and find out later that it is unworkable."

Although the council members did not voice their views in public, Moffitt said he spoke with several of them individually to gauge their opinions on the matter.

He added that he likely will continue to talk with the attorneys representing the construction companies to come up with another revision on the ordinance.