ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City Council unanimously approved an updated sound ordinance Monday night that restricts excessive vehicular noise caused by speaker systems, modified mufflers and other vehicle operations.
Those found operating vehicles in violation could be fined $150 on their first offense, $300 on their second and $500 on any subsequent offenses within a 12-month period.
Chip Sawyer, the city's director of operations, explained the ordinance in detail to council during its Monday night meeting. Basically, the ordinance lays out specifics of each restricted use and provides reason for city council's approval of the regulations.
“We started out with the purpose of linking excessive and disturbing noise as something that could hurt public safety and welfare,” Sawyer said.
Discussions around excessive vehicular noise stem from public comments made in August about loud exhausts and revving vehicles disturbing the peace. The city’s earlier sound regulations didn’t name such vehicle operations as disturbances, making enforcement difficult for local police.
The updated language, however, specifically names such operations as nuisances. The new ordinance's first section on restricted uses explains that a vehicle's sound amplification system should not be heard at a distance of 75 feet between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Exceptions include emergency vehicles and speaker testing.
The second section restricts most muffler modifications, including cutouts and exhaust whistles and the third section restricts vehicle operations that cause noises heard 50 feet from the vehicle.
“Basically, it's saying every vehicle has to be equipped with a good working muffler, and it's unlawful to make modifications,” Sawyer said.
The ordinance specifically names “laying down rubber” or “peeling rubber” as offenses, as well as the misuse of braking power and any revving of engines.
Alderperson Chad Spooner asked Sawyer if the new rules cover loud noises from trains. Since trains operate under different legal criteria than vehicles on public roads, Sawyer said they don't fall under the same restrictions.
“I think we know trains are an issue. We had to make sure that they're not in here. That would have to be a different method,” Sawyer said.
Any violation of the ordinance would be a civil penalty.
“Once we get the final ordinance, we will enforce the ordinance similar to any other that the city has adopted,” police chief Maurice Lamothe wrote in an email to the Messenger.