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Petition to Repeal City of Lincoln's new Noise Ordinance

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Lincoln City Council approves new noise ordinance
In a 6-0 vote Monday, the Lincoln City Council approved a new city ordinance pertaining to certain loud, disturbing and unnecessary noises.

Under the new ordinance the following noises are now prohibited within city limits.
* The blowing of any horn or signal device for an unreasonable period of time.
* The playing of amplified music in a restaurant or tavern between the hours of 12-7 a.m.
* Any yelling, shouting, hooting, singing or whistling, particularly on public streets, between the hours of 9 p.m.- 7 a.m.
* The keeping of an animal that causes frequent or continued noise.
* The blowing of steam whistles attached to any stationary boiler, with few exceptions.
* The discharge, into open air, of exhaust except through a muffler or device that effectively prevents loud or explosive noises.
* The erection, demolition, alteration, or repair of any building in a residential area outside the hours of 6 a.m.- 8 p.m., except in the case of urgent necessity. In those instances, people must get a written permit from the Director of City Inspections before proceeding with any noise making repairs.
* Any noise near a school, church, hospital, or institution that unreasonably interferes with their workings.
* Any use of a drum or loudspeaker to attract people to a performance or display of merchandise. There is no word yet on what this will mean for area ice cream truck drivers.
* Any unreasonable use of amplifiers or loudspeakers in the course of a public address.
* Use of all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, snowmobiles, lawnmowers and other vehicles with internal combustion engines between the hours of 9 p.m.- 7 a.m. There are some exceptions, including the loading and unloading of the vehicles, use by law enforcement, or in the case of an emergency.

Any person convicted of a violation will be fined $150 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for each new offense to follow.

At the city council meeting Nov. 12, City Administrator Sue McLuaghlin told the council the ordinance was put together by Police Chief Kenneth Greenslate at her request. She and City Attorney Blinn Bates reviewed it before sending it to aldermen Nov. 11.

At that meeting, Ald. David Wilmert said the ordinance goes a bit far in restricting what people can do indoors on private property.

“Are we leaving this up to the enforcement when this gets called in, when we’re trying to, in the dead of night, figure out what constitutes unreasonable loudness or someone is trying to figure out what an emergency is. Is this the discretion of the officer on the scene or how is that going to happen?” he asked.

“It usually starts out as the discretion of the officer on scene and then it is followed up by the discretion of the prosecution and then ultimately it’s the discretion of the judge. So there are three layers of discretion,” Greenslate replied.

Wilmert added, “Before the fine kicks in.”

Before the ordinance was added to the agenda for Monday's meeting, Wilmert asked, “Is everyone else alright with that? Do we have any more work we want to do? Did everyone get it at the same time I did yesterday?”

Ald. Marty Nietzel mentioned if they found something to change, it could be done before voting.

Wilmert and Ald. Bruce Carmitchel were absent from Monday's meeting, and there was no discussion on the ordinance before it went to a vote.

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