Fort Worth

Burleson looks at proposed noise ordinance

It may be the season for making joyful noise, but in Burleson that doesn’t include loud music, revving car engines or barking dogs.

Noise complaints have jumped so significantly — to 357 so far this year, up from 279 last year — that the Burleson City Council is re-examining its noise ordinance for the first time since 1994.

Among the changes would be to include decibel levels for what is an acceptable noise level. The current ordinance doesn’t specify decibel levels, Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell said during a community meeting this week.

Another proposed change is to specify where the noise complaint occurred by using the complainant’s property line as a point where an officer can measure noise levels, he said.

“Our current ordinance is very broad and subject to interpretation,” Cordell said.

The council is in favor of overhauling the ordinance, and voted unanimously for the proposed changes during a first reading during its Nov. 10 meeting.

Council members won’t make a final decision until after the first of the year because they want to give the public a chance to comment at additional community meetings in December and January. Dates for the additional meetings will be announced soon.

Cordell said the Police Department already has purchased a device for measuring noise in the Old Town area, where there routinely is live music and other activity.

It doesn’t take much to produce noise, Cordell said. For example, an office setting generates around 50 decibels, and a lawn mower is around 90 decibels, he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, noise levels can’t go above 70 decibels during the day, and 60 decibels at night. In Commercial areas, the daytime decibel level would be 80 and 70 at night.

Sally Ellertson, a spokeswoman for the city, said the decibel levels are an enforcement tool for officers if someone complains.

“If someone is mowing their lawn during the day in the middle of summer, I don’t think anyone would complain,” she said.

Cordell said another proposed change is to escalate fines for repeat offenders who receive citations and ignore them.

The proposed ordinance also cracks down on pet owners that allow their dogs to bark constantly, meaning that the owner violates the ordinance if the dog barks for longer than 10 minutes.