Adjusted noise ordinance ‘a start,’ Ottawa commissioner says

Decibel level attached to new ordinance

A noise ordinance passed Tuesday through the Ottawa City Council after it was placed on file two weeks prior.

The difference between how the city’s noise ordinance worked before and how it works now is in the discretion: It was up to the officer on-scene to decide whether or not to assess a fine, but now there’s a decibel level attached to it.

For residential properties, noise should not exceed 65 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and it should not exceed 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Commercial properties are capped at 75 decibels from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and 50 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and industrial properties are capped at 80 decibels.

Commercial properties would have until 11:59 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Memorial Day eve, July 3, Labor Day eve and Thanksgiving eve to play music as loud as 75 decibels.

Commissioner Wayne Eichelkraut said he believes this ordinance is a good start although more adjustments will be needed in the future since the changing seasons means less outdoor music.

Commissioner Tom Ganiere agreed.

“I had one call from a business owner concerned their air conditioning equipment would be too loud but we talked to (Police Chief Brent Roalson) and he thought it wouldn’t generate a ticket since it was normal business hours,” Ganiere said. “As Wayne said, I think we make have to adjust next year but for now we’ll have to see how it works.”

The issue popped up in August when complaints levied against Berta’s Tap by a nearby resident led to a series of fines and an agreement with the city to suspend operations briefly. However, it was Berta’s violation of its liquor ordinance that started the initial issue.

Ottawa’s liquor ordinance states live music has to stop at midnight in order for a bar to be allowed to serve alcohol.

The language used to draft the noise ordinance is based on Geneva’s ordinance but the noise standards are the same as the ordinance used in Oglesby.