Proposal would give more teeth to Lexington's noise ordinance

bfortune@herald-leader.comDecember 4, 2012 

The Urban County Council is reviewing an ordinance that would give police more power to write tickets for drivers whose stereo systems are cranked up loud enough to blast birds out of the sky.

Then again, it might not have to be quite that loud now to gain an officer's attention. The proposed change gives the city's current noise ordinance more bite and allows Lexington police to cite drivers if their stereo creates a noise disturbance that can be heard by a person "of normal hearing sensitivity" more than 10 feet away.

Police can cite drivers for loud music, but the new ordinance adds language for disturbances that can be heard more than 10 feet away, said Rick Curtis, administrative officer for the Department of Public Safety. The ordinance would reduce the volume of loud stereos on public streets, in parks and on other city-owned property.

Curtis said, "Police will not be turned into a noise patrol."

It's all up to the officer's discretion, said Curtis, who served on the task force that has been reviewing and updating the city's noise ordinance. The section dealing with vehicle stereo noise was completed early, and pulled out for separate passage.

"It's the kind of thing if a stereo is so loud, an officer will use common sense and ask people to turn it down. Most people comply," Curtis said.

It's not enough that citizens hear the noise and report it. "Police have to hear it themselves," said council member Tom Blues, who chaired the task force.

Mike Henderson, sales manager of Car Stereo Warehouse at 1043 East New Circle Road, said he thought the ordinance went a step too far.

"As a taxpayer, a person should have a right to enjoy their music in their vehicle," he said. not just hear but feel their music.

"If you have a construction company working outside your house, that produces as much, or more, noise than a car stereo that's loud but passes by in just a few seconds," Henderson said.

The ordinance is on the council docket Thursday night for second reading.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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