City working on updates to noise ordinance, amplification permit fees

Published 10:51 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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City Manager Jonathan Russell told the Washington City Council on Monday that the city is looking at possible changes to its noise ordinance and noise amplification permit process.

Those potential changes include waiving the noise amplification permit fees, as well as tightening enforcement of the 11 p.m. cutoff time listed in the city’s noise ordinance. Russell said the entire noise ordinance needs updates.

Washington currently charges a $50 fee for noise amplification permits. The city’s code of ordinances says, “No person shall use or operate a sound amplification device that emits sounds audible within a public street or other outdoor place without a valid sound amplification application/permit.”

“We’ve run into an issue with some of the businesses in our community that are having a lot of entertainment a number of times in the month,” Russell said. “Maybe putting a burden on them that they feel is unfair.

“Looking at that, we’ll continue to evaluate and see what neighboring communities do. There’s kind of a wide range. The majority do charge some type of fee, but we’re looking at a separate treatment for businesses versus individuals.”

Russell noted that if permit fees were waived, the city would still require entities to apply for an amplification permit. He said the city is working with Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford on the potential changes.

“As part of that, our noise ordinance needs an update to be constitutionally sound,” Russell said. “It currently is about a page and a half. I think we need to add eight to 10 additional pages to make sure we meet current requirements on that.”