Sleepless in Steamboat? City looks at noise laws |

Sleepless in Steamboat? City looks at noise laws

— Steamboat Springs City Council may have to choose between a good night’s sleep and efficient snow removal at its meeting Tuesday night.

City Council will consider the second reading of an ordinance that would exempt snow removal equipment from the existing city noise ordinances.

It will be the second time council has contemplated a final version of the ordinance, which applies to contractors removing snow from private parking lots and lanes.

When council prepared to vote on the exemption ordinance March 7, it heard from a resident who said overnight snow removal operations in private parking lots are interrupting neighbors’ sleep.

Several other people have contacted the police department to complain about the noise. The mandatory backup beepers on front-end loaders, in particular, are waking some nearby residents in the wee hours.

John Morrone asked City Council on March 7 to consider invoking a “quiet time,” noting that equipment removing snow from the high school parking lot makes a great deal of noise at 2 a.m.

Council discussed the possibility of banning snow removal between midnight and 6 a.m., or midnight and 4 a.m.

However, some City Council members worried the imposition of a quiet period would hamper orderly removal of snow.

Ultimately, council voted to delay adoption of the ordinance and asked City Manager Paul Hughes to study the ramifications of a ban on snow removal operations beginning at midnight and continuing for an undetermined time.

When word got out the city was contemplating an overnight ban on snow removal operations a number of property managers and snow removal contractors wrote emphatic letters of opposition.

“Take a look outside,” Mark Halvorson of Snow Country Construction wrote to the city manager. “We live in the mountains. It snows a lot here. Neither you nor I can control when, how often, how deep, or how many hours Mother Nature is going to drop the snow on us. I think we need to be exceedingly thankful that our city crews and our private contractors are willing to start at 2-3 a.m. and have our community plowed for us before we show up for work. This purported problem is not broken and it doesn’t need any fixing.”

City Council members, without taking a final position on the issue, decided at their April 4 meeting that they would go ahead with a second reading of the original exemption ordinance as it was written.

City staff is supporting the new ordinance exempting snow plow operations from the city’s noise ordinance.

“Snow removal can be most effectively accomplished during late evening and early morning hours,” staff attorney Dan Foote wrote in a memo to City Council.

“Staff does not believe that heavy snow removal equipment can be operated in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance. Therefore, an exception to the noise ordinance is necessary,” Foote continued.

Foote wrote that the police department has “declined” to enforce the noise ordinance on the grounds that snow removal operations have been exempted from previous noise ordinances and the lack of an exemption in the current code is an oversight.

Foote wrote that he could not find any specific exception from noise ordinance provisions for snow removal either in the current code or in previous codes.

City Council meets beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Public Safety Building, 840 Yampa St. Other items on the agenda include a conceptual review of the Rollingstone residential development — no vote will be taken. City Council will spend the first 2.5 hours interviewing candidates for the Ice Rink Advisory Committee, Board of Adjustments and Planning Commission. The regular agenda will begin at 6:30 p.m.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail tomross@amigo.netb

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