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9:39 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Noise ordinance <BR>Chino council: 'Boom boxes' now illegal

CHINO VALLEY – Convicted violators of a new Chino Valley noise ordinance against "boom boxes" could spend as long as six months in jail and pay fines of as much as $2,500, plus a 77 percent court surcharge.

Chino Valley Town Council members took action during their Thursday meeting to make it loud and clear that vehicles with noisy boom boxes are not welcome in the town.

The first vote on Ordinance No. 429 ended in a tie. But council members voted four to two the second time around in favor of adopting a strict and specific noise ordinance.

The ordinance is aimed specifically at "boom boxes," vehicle muffler systems and "jake braking" by trucks or other vehicles.

Violation of the new "boom box" and "jake braking" sections of Ordinance No. 429 is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, a criminal offense, and carries a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine (plus a 77 percent surcharge), six months in jail and three years of probation.

Before the noise ordinance was passed, Russ St. Pierre, vice mayor, amended the "boom box" provision to include minimum penalties. For first offenders, the fine will be $100; second time offenders will pay $250; third time offenses will pay $1,000 – all with the court-imposed 77 percent surcharge.

Robert Pecharich, town attorney, said this is the first municipal noise ordinance he knows of to carry minimum penalties. Usually a judge decides what penalty to impose.

St. Pierre said residents have complained for four years about "boom box" noise from vehicles.

The ordinance is designed to regulate such noise by prohibiting the "playing, using or operating of a 'sound amplification system' which can be heard from a distance of 50 feet or more which annoys or disturbs the quiet, comfort and repose of any person in the vicinity. Emergency vehicles, utility vehicles, parade vehicles and 'special permit' vehicles are exempt from this provision," said a summary by Carl Tenney, town manager.

The provision against the noise made through "jake braking" carries the same criminal penalty and maximum fines, but was not amended to carry minimum fines.

"Jake braking" is described as: "Operating a truck or other vehicle in such a manner as to cause the engine to emit additional noise from the exhaust or muffler system in a practice known as 'jake braking.'" Council members amended that section of the ordinance by adding: "unless an emergency situation exists."

"Operating a motor vehicle without a proper muffler system" is a civil, traffic offense.

The ordinance also prohibits causing "excessively loud or unusual noise … from your property" between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

The council decided noise is excessively loud "if a normal hearing person can hear it from a distance of 200 feet. Persons engaging in intrastate or interstate commerce and emergency vehicles are exempt from this provision."

In other action, council members adopted an ordinance to amend the zoning code to permit sexually oriented businesses only in specific industrial zone areas that accommodate a required set-back of 1,000 feet.

Mayor Dan Main called the sexually oriented business ordinance and zoning specifications "very restrictive," noting that the town has imposed "hiring fees of $1,000" for each employee of a sexually oriented business.

Scott Bergthold, of the Community Defense Counsel, explained to concerned residents who attended the meeting that the Supreme Court has ruled that adult businesses cannot be barred altogether. However, the court said their operations can be strictly limited.

In Chino Valley, sexually oriented businesses will have to comply with stringent regulations.

And residents are prepared to help in any way they can.

Bob Remp, pastor at the Chino Valley United Methodist Church, representing a ministerial association, volunteered to "demonstrate our resistance" and "do civil, peaceful things like making videotapes of people visiting those establishments.

"We will do all we can to support the town in their resistance," he said.

Concerning another zoning item, council members voted to approve a zoning change for 55 acres near the northeast corner of the Outer Loop Road, Road 4 South and Highway 89, with specific restrictions that meet the approval of residents living near the area. Developers will create a commercial district, but will prepare "a development and master plan as agreed to by the town council" before any development begins.

The council also accepted a proposal from Southwest Civic Professionals to help the town with "technical assistance in developing a plan that will identify and recommend appropriate actions that will adequately address: wastewater treatment options, collection system options, reuse considerations, regulatory compliance issues, as well as customer base concerns."

The town will pay the company with $18,300 in grant money and $11,700 provided through in-kind services by town staff members.