Noise ordinance proposal could affect construction in NYC

New York City officials announced legislation Monday to overhaul the city’s noise code, which could affect everything from jobsite jackhammers to the neighborhood ice cream truck.

According to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the new noise code would remove outdated code sections and replace them with updated versions that would provide more “reasonable enforcement.”

“This new proposal is the first overhaul of the noise code in over thirty years and will maintain our City’s vibrancy by balancing the need for construction, development and an exciting nightlife with New Yorkers’ well deserved right to peace and quiet,” Bloomberg said.

One of the main focuses of the proposal is to reduce sound from construction sites, especially those located near residential neighborhoods. The code would establish more uniform management practices for all worksites through “noise management plans,” and would make it more difficult to get permits for night and weekend work. The new proposal would also require portable sound barriers at construction sites and the use of noise jackets for all jackhammers.

Frances McArdle of the General Contractors Association of New York his organization will work with the mayor toward a reasonable approach to controlling the noise issue.

“We applaud the administration’s efforts to include the construction industry in the development and consideration of the new noise code standard,” McArdle says.

In addition to the effects on construction jobsites in the city, the noise proposal would also affect noise from air conditioner units in old and new buildings. The current law states that a single unit cannot be louder than 45 decibels. However, the new proposal would require air conditioning units in new buildings, including clusters of units, to be no louder than 45 decibels. In older buildings, units’ noise levels would have to be reduced by five decibels.

One of the reasons Bloomberg’s proposal is likely to face adversity is that tunes from ice cream trucks would be a violation of the noise ordinance. People could also get noise summonses for their dog barking or for their car being too loud. The current law requires police officers to use a noise meter when determining if the noise ordinance is being broken. The new proposal, however, would allow police officers to issue citations for multiple circumstances without a meter, including noise from a car stereo, barking animals and loud mufflers.

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Hearings on the noise overhaul legislation will be held by the City Council this summer. If approved, the new code is slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2006.