City wants to change noise ordinance to allow early morning street sweeping downtown
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs wants to change its noise ordinance to continue a loud but important public service early in the morning downtown.
Street sweeping operations are already occurring downtown from 5 to 7 a.m., and the city wants them to continue during those hours.
But the operations currently violate the city’s own noise code.
The move to change the rules follows a citizen’s complaint to the city about the noise from the sweepers.
The noise ordinance makes exceptions for snow removal and trash collection in the wee hours of the morning, but sweepers are not currently exempt.
The sweepers are louder than the city’s maximum nighttime noise limit of 55 decibels.
According to city staff, street sweeping, which removes scoria and other particulates from the roads that can harm air quality, is done in the downtown corridor at those early hours because that is the safest and most practical time to have them on the streets that start to fill up with parked cars and traffic after 7 a.m.
The sweeping is vital to maintaining the city’s current air quality level, Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said.
“We can do (street sweeping) across the city pretty much throughout the day everywhere else, but in these areas, we do have significant trouble,” Anderson said referring to the downtown streets.
Not everyone is ready to sanction the extra early morning noise in the downtown corridor.
Council member Walter Magill opposed the first reading of the city’s request to change the ordinance.
He said he thought downtown residents were “getting punished” because they live downtown.
“There’s so much noise and operating noise there,” Magill said mentioning snowplows and a recent complaint he got from an Old Town Condominiums resident about noise from city street crews removing ice on the street at 4 a.m.
And downtown resident Geoff Petis requested that the council table the discussion about the possible noise code change for a month so he could contact other downtown residents to get their opinion on the street sweeper noise levels.
Answering an earlier question from a council member, he assured the council that the sweepers were louder than church bells.
With some members pointing out the early morning hours were the safest and most practical time to have the sweepers on the downtown streets, the council voted, 5-1, approved the first reading of the ordinance.
Council member Kenny Reisman was absent for the vote.
A public hearing on the ordinance change will be held Feb. 24.
In other action
• The council voted unanimously to give final approval to changes to the city’s trash rules regarding bear-proof trash containers. The rules aim to make the commercial dumpsters more wildlife resistant and will require some property owners to upgrade the lids on their dumpsters if bears are getting through them.
• The council told city staff it wants to consider a budget proposal that would allow the Workman property on Yampa Street to be converted into a public park this summer instead of waiting until 2016.
• The council approved a minor amendment to the urban growth boundary to include a 3.2-acre parcel located at 955 Pahwintah St. The council also supported a future land use designation as Estate Residential, which would limit the number of additional homes that could be built on the property.
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