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Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Not-so-sweet sounds of growth may get muffled

City to consider banning excessive construction noise during early, late hours

April 9, 2005

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Tony Peterson can tell you how he doesn't like to be awakened at his home in the 700 block of Rhode Island Street.

"I've had jackhammers going at midnight, there have been heavy dirt movers at 8:30 at night, there has been construction going on at 5:15 in the morning right across the street," Peterson said. "A bulldozer at 5 in the morning is not a pleasant sound."

But right now in Lawrence, the clanging and banging of construction is legal -- no matter how annoying or loud.

City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting expect to discuss changing that. Mayor Mike Rundle wants commissioners to consider amending the ordinance to make excessive construction noise a violation if it occurs during evening or early-morning hours.

Several cities statewide -- including Overland Park, Olathe and Topeka -- have similar provisions in their noise ordinances. Most have limits on construction noise between 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. Topeka, though, is more restrictive and limits construction noise from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Rundle said he didn't have a specific proposal in mind, but thinks the time has come to address the issue.

"Through the years, it (construction noise) has been one of those pretty regular complaints," Rundle said. "We have got a lot of working people in town that need their sleep."

Construction sites like this one along West Sixth Street could get
a bit quieter in the early morning and late in the evening under a
City Commission proposal that would limit excessive construction
noise.

Construction sites like this one along West Sixth Street could get a bit quieter in the early morning and late in the evening under a City Commission proposal that would limit excessive construction noise.

Members of the construction industry, though, said there were legitimate reasons why they sometimes got started early in the morning.

"A lot of times it is weather related," said Bobbie Flory, executive director of the Lawrence Home Builders Assn. "When it is a hundred and some degrees outside, working on a roof in the middle of the afternoon may not be all that safe."

Flory said an ordinance limiting work at 7 p.m. would be a "definite" problem for the construction industry in the summer months because crews often worked until sundown to make up for days lost to rain.



"When the weather gives you the opportunity to work, that is when you have to go in and do the work," Flory said.

But the ordinance wouldn't prohibit all construction work from taking place -- only the type loud enough to create a disturbance on someone else's property. That has neighbors believing that construction crews ought to figure out how to work around the regulations.

"There are probably relatively quiet things they can do between five o'clock and six o'clock in the morning, if they really want to start that early," said Alan Cowles, president of the West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn., which has had members awakened by jackhammers at 1 a.m. as work progresses on rebuilding a portion of Sixth Street. "It (an ordinance) sounds reasonable to me."





The Oread Neighborhood Assn. plans a meeting to allow residents to ask questions about new city policies on noise complaints.The noise issue will be a topic at the association's spring general meeting at 7 p.m. April 14 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.Police Chief Ron Olin and City Manager Mike Wildgen will be among the city officials on hand to answer questions.

Commissioners will have to figure out exactly how strict they want to be with a new ordinance. City staff members noted that commissioners had ordered some road crews to work at night to limit impacts on traffic flow. Flory also noted that the city's trash trucks often are creating noise in residential neighborhoods before 6 a.m.

Peterson -- who has heard the construction noises over a period of years ranging from when the Borders bookstore was built in the 1990s to the current Hobbs Taylor Lofts projects -- said he hoped commissioners would figure out how to make the ordinance work.



In 2004, the city issued 78 citations for violations of the noise ordinance. The fine per violation is $50.Source: David Corliss, assistant city manager and director of legal service

"All I can tell you is, it's a constant irritation to listen to diesel equipment every single morning," Peterson said.

Commissioners will discuss the issue at their meeting at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.












For the limitsMayor Mike Rundle wants commissioners to consider amending a city ordinance to make excessive construction noise a violation if it occurs during evening or early-morning hours.Against the limitsMembers of the construction industry, like Bobbie Flory, executive director of the Lawrence Home Builders Assn., say an ordinance limiting work at 7 p.m. would be a "definite" problem for the construction industry in the summer because of excessive heat and because crews often work until sundown to make up for days lost to rain.The meetingCommissioners will discuss the noise issue at their meeting at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.

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