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by Eric Ginsburg

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GREENSBORO REVISITS NOISE ORDINANCE, AGAIN

Knock knock. It’s your old friend, the Greensboro noise ordinance.

Councilwomen Nancy Hoffmann, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Vaughan are bringing forward two significant revisions to the noise ordinance for council’s Tuesday meeting, but the item was postponed until Sept. 17.

After lowering the nighttime threshold from 75 to 65 decibels and switching from A to C weighting in July, the threshold level is back on the agenda for a very good reason: The current level is unenforceable. Opponents of the July revisions — the second round of changes since council first tackled the issue in early 2012 — argued that ambient noise would be a problem with C-weighted 65 decibel level, and that’s exactly what police and council members found out. Vaughan said that readings taken outside of closed venues were crossing the 65-decibel threshold.

To reach an enforceable level, council will consider raising the decibel threshold to 75 but will retain the C-weighting system it put in place in July. Council will also consider — and is expected to pass — a ban on outdoor amplified noise after 11 p.m.

Vaughan and Hoffmann said they were responding to feedback from the Greensboro Police Department about issues with amplified noise, and Mayor Robbie Perkins said this round of changes will make enforcement easier because the 11 p.m. ban will be more clear cut. The changes are necessary, Vaughan said, but she’s disappointed the noise ordinance needed to be placed on the agenda again. So is Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson. “I don’t know what I can make of that,” Johnson said less than an hour after finding out it would come before council. “I think we ought to do something fair…. and we need to stick with it. I just want us to get to a point where it’s a win-win and leave it there. I’m tired of it.”

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