City commission discusses noise ordinance

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Manhattan City Hall had a large turnout Tuesday evening as the public heard the city commission’s proposal for a new noise ordinance.

According to the city commission’s legislative agenda, the proposal follows a Riley County Police Department staff meeting, which took place after Fake Patty’s Day in March. Citizens had made disturbance of the peace complaints related to noises exceeding 65 and 80 decibels, the regulated sound levels allowed in residential and commercial/industrial districts, respectively.

This Fake Patty’s Day produced a high number of these complaints. Citizens within a several-mile radius of Aggieville frequently report loud noises emanating from Aggieville throughout the year.

It was further identified that the extreme volume within Aggieville has covered the noise of other crimes, and oftentimes makes it more difficult for emergency personnel to identify or respond to issues, increasing the threat to their safety and the public’s safety.

Citizens spoke out in favor of the new ordinance, including Manhattan resident Ed Park, who expressed frustration with the sound decibel level that city trash trucks violate during early morning hours.

“Every Monday morning at 4 a.m. a trash truck comes through the alley behind our yard, makes three loud booms, and then pulls away,” Park said. “I’m sure this exceeds 80 decibels because my house is over 100 feet from the dumpsters. I understand that trash needs to be collected, but not at four in the morning.”

At the May 17 legislative meeting, the city commission held a discussion regarding the current noise ordinance and possible changes to it. A comparison sheet was shared with the commission that showed standards and enforcement of the current ordinance versus the proposed framework for a new noise ordinance.

Kiel Mangus, assistant city manager, addressed the changes made to the current ordinance.

“We built in new factors that weren’t in the original noise ordinance before,” Mangus said. “These were designed to give us some flexibility of what’s reasonable, and to find those factors. We want to define what ‘reasonableness’ means in relation to these noises.”

Commissioner Mike Dodson said he wanted the community to be aware of the necessity of some unavoidable noises created by public services.

“We have the construction industry, which in most cases creates persistent noise that’s going to be there for quite a while,” Dodson said. “This reasonableness needs to be considered by the residents of the areas.”

Mayor Usha Reddi also weighed in on the ordinance’s possible influence on Aggieville.

“We want our businesses to thrive in Manhattan,” Reddi said. “We understand that we are a university community and we want our youngsters and their families to have a good time when they come to visit. There are a lot of great memories made in Aggieville, and we certainly don’t want to stampede all over those.”

City commissioners unanimously approved a first reading of the ordinance to occur at the next meeting.

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