City proposes noise ordinance

Tallahassee residents can expect a noise ordinance in place early next year after more than 6,000 noise complaints were reported to the Tallahassee Police Department in 2012.

The proposed noise ordinance would make any noise level 70 decibels or higher punishable by law. It would also put regulations on restaurants, clubs, house parties, animals, loudspeakers and more.

Violation of the ordinance could lead to a citation with a fine between $150 and $500 and could include 60 days of jail time for repeat offenders.

Leroy Peck, a local resident and president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, feels frustrated at times when sitting in his living room and not being able to hear the television due to noise outside. Peck feels that it is time to “strike a balance.”

“The community has to have some mechanism to determine nuisances,” Peck said. “There has to be some middle ground between neighborhoods and businesses.”

The noise complaint report named 229 businesses that were reported. These businesses included AJ Sports Bar, Coliseum Nightclub, Cheeks Sport Bar and Capital Lanes Bowling.

Activities such as sporting games, festivals, parades and fireworks will be listed as exceptions to the noise ordinance. Carrier stations, such as bus stations and airports, public maintenance vehicles and construction will also be exempt, according to the proposed document.

Assistant City Attorney Cassandra Jackson encourages residents to read the proposed noise ordinance online and give feedback. The feedback is taken to the Target Issue Committee to determine if a part of the proposed noise ordinance needs to be changed.

The Tallahassee Police Department is preparing for the changes to be made next year. Officers will be trained to use a $2,500 sound device that will determine the exact decibel of the sound. Officers will not, however, be able to enter anyone’s house to measure the sound. The noise must be heard from outside the resident.

Derek Friend, a Tallahassee Police Department sergeant, encourages everyone to read and understand the noise ordinance to avoid police interaction and make it a better community.

“I think it will be important that everybody take the point of reading it to know,” Friend said. “The more educated everybody is hopefully we’ll all get to a point where everybody is ok with what everyone else is doing without getting to the enforcement phase. It’ll give everyone a better idea of how to be a good neighbor.”