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Thread: Acceptable decibel readings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Acceptable decibel readings

    A town I'm working for has had me draft some fairly restrictive regs. concerning outdoor dining areas adjacent to residential uses. With teh Throbbing Brains help I was able to put something together that I think is simple, too the point, and a darned good ordinance overall, for their lacking zoning code. The town is happy but have asked me to add a condition on noise levels. They've purchased a decibel meter and are looking for a way to use it. I've researched acceptable levels of noise when measured from the adjoining property line but have not been able to find anything on specific decibel readings. Any suggestions on where to look?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Does your ord. address -
    outdoor music either live or speakers ?
    hours of operation ?
    Oddball
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    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Does your ord. address -
    outdoor music either live or speakers ?
    hours of operation ?
    Absolutely. In fact, the ordinance is probably strict enough that the decibel meter will probably never need to be used, but the town has a new toy and I think they would like a reason in the code to use it. Guidelines I've dealt with in the past have been very general and without set thresholds for determining a violation, so I just haven't had enough experience with these to write with authority something along the lines of, "sounds of ____ decibels or higher shall not be audible from the adjoining property...."

    What is the ____?

  4. #4
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I've seen 65dB used pretty often as a standard for uses abuting a single-family residential area. 65dB is also used for HUD Noise Assessment Guidelines, if I recall correctly. You might be able to use that last reference as evidence that you didn't just pull that number out of your ass.

    I'll try to provide a link to the HUD stuff on Monday. I also think I have a chart somewhere summarizing different noise thresholds, but that may prove a little more difficult to track down since I haven't had to reference it in while.

    You also need to specify which band you are using on the decible meter to take that measurement... one of them is supposed to better replicate human hearing, but I don't recall which one (there is a thread on it somewhere on Cyburbia, because I know I asked the question about three years ago). Once I figured out which one it was, I programmed it as the default and never looked back.

    EDIT: Here's that thread I was talking about: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=15902; you want to use the "A" band.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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  5. #5

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    Calgary's 1988 Surface Transportation Noise Policy report states:

    The Design Noise Level (DNL) in residential areas for outdoor leisure is 60 dB(A) Leq(24).
    The report goes on to state that:

    dB(A) Leq(24) is defined as the daily unit of noise which condenses a full 24 hours worht of sound energy into a single number "A-Weighted" to correlate closely with human hearing.
    Some more background info on this type of information is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/htnoise.htm

    A useful reference I found when doing some work on a noise wall was the "Noise Effects Handbook". It has useful information on why noise is bad, essentially, including information on how likely people are to complain about noise levels. It might be useful to you if you are exploring this issue.

    http://www.nonoise.org/library/handbook/handbook.htm

  6. #6
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Thanks for the references and guidance. On the first draft I decided to go with 75 dB during approved hours of operation and no audible sound origination while closed.

    After considering one of the site's location next to an interstate Hwy., and the rather ridged allowed hours of operation, I decided that 60-65 dB would be way to restrictive. I'm sure the municipality will likely disagree with me.

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