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Municipal Code

Chapter 10. Public Peace and Good Order

Sec. 10-33. Regulation of noise and vibrations.

(1) Declaration of policy. The City of Marshfield, finding that excessive levels of sound and vibrations are detrimental to the physical, mental and social well-being of the citizens of the City of Marshfield, as well as to their comfort, living conditions, general welfare and safety, hereby declares it to be necessary to provide for the greater and more effective regulation of excessive sounds through the adoption of this section.

(2) Scope. This section shall apply to all sound and vibration originating within the limits of the City of Marshfield.

(3) Definitions. All terminology used in this section, not defined in this subsection, shall be in conformance with applicable publications of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or its successor body.

A-weighted sound level means the sound pressure level in decibels as measured on a sound level meter using the A-weighting network. The level so read is designated dB(A) or dBA.

Airblast means an airborne shock wave resulting from detonation of explosives.

Continuous sound means and denotes a sound the intensity of which remains essentially constant during a given period of time. Continuous sound shall be measured by the slow response setting of a sound level meter.

Decibel (dB) means a unit measuring the volume of a sound, equal to 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of the pressure of the sound measured to the reference pressure, which is 20 micropascals (20 micronewtons per square meter).

Department means the Marshfield Police Department.

Emergency means any occurrence or set of circumstances involving actual or imminent physical trauma or property damage which demands immediate action.

Emergency work means any work performed for the purpose of preventing or alleviating the physical trauma or property damage threatened or caused by an emergency.

Equivalent A-weighted sound level (Leq) means the constant sound level that, in a given situation, and time period, conveys the same sound energy as the actual time varying A-weighted sound.

Noise means any sound which annoys or disturbs humans or which causes or tends to cause an adverse psychological or physiological effect on humans.

Noise disturbance means any sound which (i) endangers or injures the safety or health of humans or animals; or (ii) any loud or unusual noise which would tend to annoy or disturb a reasonable person of normal sensitivities; or (iii) endangers or injures personal or real property; or (iv) exceeds the applicable maximum permissible sound levels as they appear in the tables at subsection (6)(b) of this section.

Person means any individual, association, partnership or corporation.

Public right-of-way means any street, avenue, boulevard, highway, sidewalk or alley or similar place which is owned or controlled by a governmental entity.

Public space means any real property or structures thereon which are owned or controlled by a governmental entity.

Real property boundary means an imaginary line along the ground surface, and its vertical extension, which separates the real property owned by one person from that owned by another person, but not including intrabuilding real property divisions.

Sound means an oscillation in pressure, particle displacement, particle velocity or other physical parameter, in a medium with internal forces that causes compression and rarefaction of that medium. The description of sound may include any characteristic of such sound, including duration, intensity and frequency.

Sound level means the weighted sound pressure level obtained by the use of a sound level meter and frequency weighting network, such as A, B, or C as specified in American National Standards Institute specifications for sound level meters (ANSI S1.4 - 1971, or the latest approved revision thereof). If the frequency weighting employed is not indicated, the A-weighting shall apply.

Sound pressure means the instantaneous difference between the actual pressure and the average or barometric pressure at a given point in space, as produced by sound energy.

Stationary source means any sound source operating or occurring on any public or private property, not including a public right-of-way.

Unreasonable annoyance means an excessive, repeated noise, action or other disturbance that is not justified by reason.

Vibration means an oscillatory motion of solid bodies of deterministic or random nature described by displacement, velocity, or acceleration with respect to given reference point.

(4) Administration. The noise control program established by this section shall be administered by the Marshfield Police Department.

(5) Noise disturbances prohibited. No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued within the city, any noise disturbance as defined in subsection (3) of this section. The following acts are declared to be loud, disturbing and unnecessary noises in violation of this section, but such enumeration shall not be deemed to be exclusive:

  1. Radios, television sets, musical instruments and similar devices. Operating, playing or permitting the operation or playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, musical instrument, sound amplifier, or similar device which produces, reproduces, or amplifies sound. The using, operating or permitting to be played, used or operated between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance across a real property boundary.
  2. Loudspeakers/public address systems. Using or operating or permitting the operation of any loudspeaker, public address system, or similar device, such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance.
  3. Noisy animals. The keeping or harboring of any animal which by frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, crowing, or making of other noises, substantially annoys, disturbs or inconveniences a person living nearby or passing by upon the public streets, alleys or sidewalks.
  4. Construction and tool use. Operating or permitting the operating of any tools or equipment between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day, such that sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance, except for emergency work of public service utilities.
  5. Emergency signaling devices. The sounding or permitting the sounding outdoors of any fire, burglar or civil defense alarm, siren, whistle or similar signaling device such that the sound therefrom creates a noise disturbance, except for actual emergency purposes. Testing a stationary emergency signaling device shall occur at the same time of day each time such a test is performed, but not before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. Any such testing shall use only the minimum cycle test time. In no case shall such test time exceed three minutes.
  6. Yelling, shouting. Yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting or generally creating a racket between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. the following day so as to annoy or disturb the quiet comfort or repose of persons in any business or residence or in such a manner as to create a noise disturbance.

(6) Measurement and control of noise. Measurement and control of noise shall be in accordance with the following:

  1. Noise prohibited. No person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued any noise in excess of the noise levels set forth in this subsection unless such noise is reasonably necessary to the preservation of life, health, safety or property.
  2. Measurement and control. It shall be unlawful for any person to cause a sound from a stationary source which exceeds any sound level as set forth in the applicable column in the following table titled "Maximum Permissible Sound Levels" when measured at the real property line of the offending source. Measurement shall be made by a duly authorized individual who is knowledgeable in the proper use of the measurement equipment. Measurement shall be made in the slow response, A-weighting of the sound meter.

    Maximum Permissible Sound Levels
    Zones Time of Day dB
    All 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. 80
    All 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. 65
  3. Exemptions. Exemptions shall be as follows:
    1. Operations of emergency equipment shall be exempt from this section. Equipment shall include ambulance, police, fire, snow removal, civil defense sirens, etc., necessary for the health, safety and protection of the citizens of the city.
    2. Snow blowers not operated on a commercial basis shall be exempt from this section when used to gain access to a city street.
    3. Lawn mowers, chainsaws, powered garden equipment and other nonconstruction maintenance equipment shall be operated only during the hours between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. unless within the specified noise levels measured at the property line of the location at which such equipment is in use.

(7) Variances. Procedures for granting variances shall be as follows:

  1. The council may issue variances for special circumstances such as, but not limited to:
    1. Special public events such as parades, Fourth of July celebrations, fairs, school band playing and similar public, community events which are limited in duration. The variances may limit the hours and duration of the variance and may be conditioned upon the applicant taking technologically reasonable steps to minimize the noise.
    2. Existing business operations and equipment which produce excessive noise if it is found that it is not technologically or economically feasible to alter such operation to reduce noise to the standard prescribed by this section. Such variance permit may be of indefinite duration.
    3. The variance may be granted upon application stating the name of the applicant, address of the event, date and times of operation, what technologically reasonable steps will be taken to minimize the noise and a noise impact statement.  The contents of the noise impact statement shall be determined by the city clerk.
  2. In determining whether to grant or deny an application, the council shall balance the hardship to the applicant, the community, and other persons of denying the special waiver against the adverse impact of granting the variance on the health, safety and welfare of persons affected.

(8) Vibrations. Vibrations shall be regulated as follows:

  1. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this section, the provisions of SPS chapter 307, subchapter VII of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, as amended from time to time, are hereby adopted by reference and made a part of this Code as though fully set forth in this section, exclusive of provisions relating to penalties. Any act required to be performed or prohibited by COMM chapter 7, subchapter VII is required or prohibited by this section.
  2. In addition to preblast notice required by SPS chapter 307, the contractor shall notify the department in advance of all blasting.

(9) Emergency exception. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the emission of sound for the purpose of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency, or the emission of sound in the performance of emergency work.

(10) Conflict. If this section or parts of this section conflict with any prior ordinance, or part of a prior ordinance, this section repeals all prior ordinances or parts thereof.

(Code 1982, 9.06; Ord. No. 1014, 1, 4-13-2004; Ord. No. 1086, 1, 11-14-2006; Ord. No. 1220, 1, 2-28-2012; Ord. No. 1220, 1, 2-28-2012)