Town gives citizens another chance to review noise rules

Public hearing November 5
Several changes to the proposed noise ordinance have prompted the Crested Butte Town Council to postpone the ordinance for a second time.

The Crested Butte Town Council continued the public hearing on Ordinance 19 until Monday, November 5, when a final draft of the ordinance would be available for review. This was the second public hearing for the ordinance.
A work session was held prior to the Monday, October 15 council meeting to address lingering issues with the ordinance, including proper decibel levels for commercial zones, the location for measuring the noise, and how to address third-party complaints.
Council members agreed the ordinance should be complaint-driven and decided that noise complaints would be measured at the recipient party’s property line rather than at the source of the noise. “Recipient party” refers to any person, business or other legal entity that is the recipient of any prohibited noise.
“It makes sense to measure at the resident’s (i.e., receiver’s) location,” Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz said.
However, Crested Butte town attorney John Belkin explained to the council that third-party complaints would have to be handled differently. For example, if a town marshal was the originator of the complaint, the noise would be measured at the source’s property, since there would be no recipient location to measure from, Belkin said.
“The policy is one that encourages complaint-driven action, not marshals taking action,” Belkin said during the work session. Third-party complaints would be measured at the generator location, according to their zone classification to allow a higher threshold.
“I just want to make sure that if no residents are complaining that the marshal isn’t pulling out a decimal reader and shutting down business for no reason,” Bernholtz responded.
Belkin agreed and said he would add language to the ordinance to address third-party complaints.
After agreeing the ordinance should be complaint-driven, the discussion focused on the proper decibel levels for the zones. Several different decibel levels have been proposed throughout the process.
Bernholtz recommended the council use state levels for the residential zone, but raise the commercial levels as a compromise for businesses.
Town Council member Leah Williams questioned raising the allowable levels in the commercial areas since they are adjacent to residential zones.
Mike Johnson, a Crested Butte resident, said decibel levels at 60/70 for commercial zones could be made to work.
“There are safeguards to protect residents in the ordinance,” Johnson said.
Decibel levels for the residential zone were set at 50 decibels during the nighttime hours (10 p.m. to 7 a.m.) and 55 decibels during the daytime (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) After some debate the council agreed to set the commercial decibels at 60 for nighttime and 70 for daytime.
Town Council member Skip Berkshire, along with several community members, expressed concern about noise made by trucks and vehicles with modified muffler systems and recommended the council add a provision in the ordinance to address such situations.
“I just want people to think twice before modifying their exhaust system,” Berkshire said.
Belkin said a statement could be added to the prohibited noise section.
“Based on comments from the public and the long debate the council has had, this is a very good noise ordinance. It’s closer to the state’s statues, and it accomplishes (the council’s) main concern—protecting the residents,” Belkin said of the ordinance.
A second public hearing for the noise ordinance will be held on Monday, November 5.

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