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Cottage Grove city ordinance reorganized

In an attempt to better regulate — and clarify — unlawful noises in the city of Cottage Grove, the infractions will be consolidated under one section of the city code.

The city’s Public Safety, Health and Welfare Commission last fall took up the prospect of reworking the noise ordinance, which currently houses regulations in multiple chapters of city code.

The change, Senior Planner John McCool said, will better categorize noise violations and continue to help facilitate law enforcement’s ability to address the various complaints.

The new noise ordinance section of city code will be divided into seven categories: exceptions, noisy gatherings, amplified sound, motor vehicles, loading and unloading, construction, excavation, repair and demolition activities, and animal noises.

The ordinance, McCool said, is structured to make any “unreasonable or excessive noise” illegal.

Amendments to the ordinance were prompted after several residents living near the Walmart construction site and vehicle enhancement shop Modern Automotive Performance complained about excessive noise.

Under exceptions will be noises that come from road repair, street sweeping, snowplowing or any general city maintenance events.

Another inconvenience the new ordinance aims to remedy is the need for a decibel reader. The previous ordinance weighed infractions against a decibel meter, a system McCool said might not adequately address acts that may be “loud and annoying to reasonable persons with ordinary sensibilities.”

There is only one reader in the city and it needs to be recalibrated after each use, which McCool said doesn’t allow for consistently accurate readings. The new ordinance better defines noise violations and gives law enforcement officials more leeway in enforcing the rules.

The Planning Commission, which discussed the amendments last fall, concluded that consolidating the ordinance would allow law enforcement to continue to be successful in resolving noise issues and conform with the procedures they already use.

The Cottage Grove City Council agreed, passing the new ordinance during its last meeting.

“It gives the police a little more latitude going into a situation,” Mayor Myron Bailey said.