Quieter days ahead in Boulder Hill Subdivision? : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Quieter days ahead in Boulder Hill Subdivision?|
|County votes to adopt noise limits for unincorporated residential areas|
|by Matt Schury|
The Kendall County Board passed an ordinance regulating noise levels in residentially zoned, unincorporated areas of the county during a meeting Tuesday morning.
The ordinance passed in an 8-0 board vote.
Board member John Purcell voted "present" and member Elizabeth Flower was absent.
The new law, which took effect Tuesday after being signed by Chairman John Shaw, places a decibel level cap on the amount of noise residents of unincorporated areas of the county can legally make.
During the day, the ordinance prohibits noise levels over 60 decibels from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nighttime sound levels cannot exceed 55 decibels from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
The six-page ordinance states that it would apply to all residentially zoned properties in unincorporated areas of the county. The largest unincorporated development in the county that would be affected by the change would be the Boulder Hill Subdivision between Oswego and Montgomery, east of Ill. Route 25.
The ordinance says the Kendall County Sheriff's Office will enforce the ordinance. Penalties quantify a violation of the ordinance as a misdemeanor offense. A first offense will cost a violator $50 with a maximum fine of $500. For subsequent offenses within two years, the minimum fine is $100 with a maximum fine of $1,000, the ordinance says.
Exemptions in the ordinance allow emergency vehicles to operate in residential areas as well as powered equipment such as lawn mowers and snow blowers. There are also a number of exemptions for noise made by emergency utility workers or work performed by public works departments.
"Agricultural noise" generated by agricultural equipment is also exempt as are motor vehicles and motorcycles.
Constructions sites have their own restrictions under the ordinance. Noise from sites that occurs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. is exempt. However the laws does allow the County's Planning, Building and Zoning Department to mitigate noises which exceed the limits.
The County Board has debated the issue of a noise ordinance since Boulder Hill resident Robin Eggert first came before them several years ago complaining about her neighbors harassing her with loud music.
Eggert was again turned down in 2009 when a majority of County Board members didn't seem receptive to the idea of an ordinance.
In 2012 the County Board saw a turnover of five board seats. This May the debate over creating a noise ordinance started again when the new board heard from Eggert.
The issue gained real traction when it was sent to the board's committee level. State's Attorney Eric Weis' office drafted several versions of the ordinance this summer that were also discussed extensively.
After Tuesday's meeting, Eggert said she was pleased with the vote and hoped the ordinance would help other residents who have issues with noisy neighbors.
"There'll be peace in Boulder Hill," Eggert said, adding that she was relieved that the board finally passed something.
"I won't be up all night listening to other people's noise because the officers have something to work with now and they will be able to address it," Eggert said.
Her message to other residents who want to see a change in policy or an ordinance passed is to keep fighting for what they want.
"If you want it bad enough, you can get it," she said.
Purcell said after the meeting he didn't have a problem with the ordinance but wasn't sure about certain details in the law.
Shortly before the board approved the ordinance, Purcell made a motion to amend it to increase the decibel violation levels to 71 decibels during the day and 61 at night. The motion failed on a 5-4 vote.
Purcell said those decibel ranges were what DuPage County uses and he felt more comfortable with those regulations because they were "more reasonable."
"The decibel charts I've looked at show those are more reasonable (sound) numbers of what happens every day," Purcell said. "Some of the details of it I just wasn't real pleased with. I wasn't necessarily opposed to it. If I was opposed to it, flat out I would just vote no."
County Sheriff Richard Randall said his office will still need to purchase sound monitoring equipment to enforce the ordinance.
Randall told the board the goal with any ordinance is to get compliance not to just issue tickets.
"If we walk up to the door and say, 'Turn it down, we've got an issue, and it's too loud' and they turn it down and we walk away-everybody's happy," Randall said. "If they tell us to go pound sand and we are called back two or three times, then we have the tool to do an enforcement or give them a ticket."
Board member Judy Gilmour said that she was also glad the ordinance finally passed.
"It's going to address some of the chronic problems that we've had in some of the neighborhoods in the unincorporated areas," Gilmour said. "It allows the Sheriff's Office to go there and try to get the person to comply first of all. If they are chronic offenders the Sheriff's Office will have the option of fining them."