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Lower Merion Adopts New Noise Ordinance

Post Date:07/21/2017 3:00 PM

On July 19, 2017, the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners adopted a new Noise Ordinance that took effect immediately throughout the Township, replacing outdated regulations for measuring and regulating noise levels. This ordinance includes noise limits and hours of operation restrictions on the use of landscaping equipment for the first time.      

The ordinance updates definitions and noise level regulations as follows: 

Maximum Sound Pressure Levels (SPL)

Daytime = 8 a.m.-8 p.m. / Nighttime = 8 p.m.-8 a.m.

Zoning District of Receiving Property

Time of Day

Maximum sound decibel limits (dBA)

Average sound decibel limits (dBA)

Residential (R)

Daytime

57

52

Nighttime

52

45

Non-residential (C)

Daytime

67

62

Nighttime

62

55

 

The ordinance includes exemptions, since some day-to-day sound levels may exceed these limits. They are summarized here:

  • Noises from the lawful operation of motor or utility vehicles; noises created by necessary Township, state or federal government work; and noises created or necessitated by emergency and civil defense activities.
  • Noise created by refuse collection services, street sweepers, deliveries, and other similar necessary activities are exempt during certain times as provided in the ordinance in detail. In residential districts, for instance, only during the hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. In non-residential areas, only during the hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
  • Noise associated with permitted outdoor dining activities located in non-residential areas, during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Noises created by construction work and the repair and maintenance of any building or property, including landscaping (with strict limits), are exempt from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. However, operation of one piece of landscaping equipment is also allowed Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (when many residents mow their own lawns).
  • Concerts, block parties, graduations, wedding receptions, ceremonies, sporting or recreational activities, carnivals, festivals, or other performances or similar activities (public or private) are exempt, with specific limitations outlined in the ordinance.
  • Warning devices operating continuously for three minutes or less, unless it is an emergency, when limits do not apply.
  • Noise created by emergency generators during a power outage. The testing of an emergency generator is exempt with specific time limitations found in the ordinance.
  • Noise created by the unamplified human voice (if not in violation of the “Peace & Good Order” chapter of the Township Code).
  • Noise associated with snow removal activity.
  • If background noise levels on a property at the time of a noise complaint are within 5 decibels of the limits in the chart above, then the levels in this chart do not apply, and the noise level may increase by up to 5 decibels over the background sound level, up to a maximum of 75 decibels.

Violations of the sound level limits could result in fines or penalties up to $1,000 for each offense. Township staff plans to issue warning notices for the first 30 days so there is adequate time for residents and business owners to adjust to the new regulations. All sound measurements will be taken with a measurement instrument as defined in the ordinance.

The newly adopted Noise Ordinance can be read in its entirety online by clicking here. Look for “Recently Adopted Ordinances” at the bottom of the page. Copies can also be made available via email by contacting the Township Secretary at jkelley@lowermerion.org