BRENHAM CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHANGES TO NOISE ORDINANCE
Potential adjustments to the City of Brenham’s noise ordinance were debated by the Brenham City Council at its meeting Thursday.
Councilmembers talked about proposed changes like setting different allowable decibel levels during morning and night; creating a framework for noises that are always allowed, never allowed or otherwise subject to decibel levels; measuring noise level at the receiving property line rather than that of the noise maker; making sure nuisance noises should not be discernable in areas with steady traffic; and taking steps to protect music tourism and Brenham’s “Music Friendly Community” designation at live music venues.
Legal and Legislative Services Manager Karen Stack said the intent of the discussion was to help clean up provisions of the noise ordinance to make any restrictions easier to understand and implement.
Part of the council’s discussion included whether reduced decibel limit allowances at night should be used in commercial- and industrial-zoned areas as they are in residential zones. Several residents spoke at the meeting, with some complaining that businesses near their homes continued noisy operations late into the evening or night. Others asked the city to put more into the noise ordinance for enforcing restrictions and to take into account the context of the noise itself, not just the decibel limit.
Addressing the question on decibel limits for businesses, Mayor Milton Tate said he would be concerned that with some of those businesses incorporating three work shifts, they might have to reduce staffing to meet any reduced noise requirements. Councilmember Atwood Kenjura and Brenham | Washington County Economic Development Director Susan Cates agreed, saying a stricter noise limit at night would not just affect a business, but all of its workers, and that those reduced operations might impede that company’s viability. Councilmember Shannan Canales rhetorically asked whether the council is weighing that more than the entire community.
Click here to view the council presentation on the city noise ordinance from Thursday's meeting.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council:
- Held executive session discussion with the city attorney regarding City of Brenham v. WTG Gas Marketing, Cause No. 37573, 335th Judicial District Court, Washington County; Aviators Plus v. City of Brenham, Cause No. 37896, 21st Judicial District Court, Washington County; and the Texas Public Information Act, the Texas Open Meetings Act and associated legal matters.
- Approved orders calling for the city council’s general election and Ward 3 special election on May 6th.
- Approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with Strand Associates for engineering services related to water source evaluation and water treatment plant expansion.
- Approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a grant application to the Texas General Land Office for the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation Regional Method of Distribution Program for road and drainage improvements on Lott Lane.
- Approved a resolution authorizing the acceptance of a grant from the Office of the Governor, Public Safety Office, Criminal Justice Division for the 2023 Bullet-Resistant Shield Grant Program.
- Passed an ordinance on its first reading authorizing the placement of a stop sign on Marjorie Street at the intersection of Atlow Drive.
- Approved a resolution authorizing the acceptance of public infrastructure improvements in the Vintage Farms subdivision, Phase 5.
Click here to view the agenda packet for Thursday's meeting.
Glad to see that traffic noise was acknowledged as the biggest problem. I’d like to see more traffic enforcement of nuisance vehicles for excess noise or dirty exhaust and to ask that the City itself consider the quality of road materials when they do road repair or lean on TXDOT if it’s them. Some of our newly resurfaced streets (105 and N. Chappell Hill) are the worst offenders I know of.
Industrial noise should be permitted in industrial zones. That’s what they’re for. If we don’t want industry and houses to be abutting forever but we don’t want to lose the business that’s there then change the zoning, grandfather the business that’s there, and write an exception into the noise ordinance for the grandfathered business. Let it be a temporary non-conforming use. The map given as an example in the packet mostly just shows a lack of zoning discipline on the City’s part. That’s the root problem and it can be fixed in due time if they want to fix it.
There ought to be clear exceptions for construction, agriculture, landscaping, religious noise, a noisy pack of children at day care, antique cars and machinery, and an easy streamlined variance process for anybody that wants to throw a little family shindig ever so often. I’m probably leaving out a bunch of stuff, but there should be an effort made to leave alone the ordinary people doing ordinary things for the betterment and wholesome enjoyment of our community.
IF there will be a company or business with three shifts it should be in an industrial area away from a residential areathat don’t pay city taxes to be kept up all night. I can’t believe that our Mayor, Kenjura and Cates are so insensitive to the public outcry. People show up to voice their concerns because they are paying for a nice quite home to come home to. Please listen with both ears to the citizens who pay taxes and your salary.
I’d like to hear more from council on parking. I am downtown right now and the market is setting up. As usual, so many double parked cars and huge trucks taking up two spaces. I had to slide over and get out of my car on passengers side. Plus, I’ll probably have fresh dings on my car.
I really don’t know the specifics of the conversations being had, but I hope the city council is not falling into the trap of setting limits a at a property line versus at the source. There is a **huge difference** and you have to understand the math before changing limits on something like this. Sound pressure level attenuates about 4 times (square of the distance) as you double the distance from the “noise maker”, or source. That’s about 6dB every time the distance doubles. So, for a point source of 95dB (typical lawnmower), the distance necessary to degrade this to 40dB (a point where it should not be very noticeable – typical ambient noise level outdoors from wind, leaves, etc.) is 600FT, or 2 football fields.
Now, here is the trap they need to avoid. When characterizing a “noise maker” 50FT inside a property line, an observer with a dB meter would measure 61dB at the property line. One could then mistakenly think that the polluter is at 61dB and that would degrade to 40dB at 10FT from the property line. NO! That is not how sound pressure levels degrade over distance. You cannot re-baseline from a property line (i.e. a distance from the noise making device). The math always has to be from the “noise maker/point source”.
I sure hope the City of Brenham understands this and doesn’t accept some sort of property line standard without fully understanding the differences between the calculations between a property line limit and a point source limit. The impact on a neighbor could be tremendous.
There used to be peace and harmony in Brenham…what has happened…progress, worship of the almighty dollar!